J is for James Harrison, blood donor

Doctors were struggling with cases of a potentially fatal condition called Rh incompatibility

james-harrison-blood_customOn one of those less-than-reliable news feeds that accompany some websites, I found a mention of some “super” blood donor.

It turns out, though, that Australian blood donor James Harrison has saved 2 million babies.

“James Harrison was born on 27 December 1936. At the age of 14, he underwent major chest surgery, requiring 13 litres (3.4 US gallons) of blood. After surgery, he was in the hospital for three months. Realizing the blood had saved his life, he made a pledge to start donating blood as soon as he turned eighteen, the then-required age.”

From NPR:
“Doctors were struggling with cases of a potentially fatal condition called Rh incompatibility, also known as rhesus isoimmunization or Rh disease. It occurs when a pregnant woman has an Rh-negative blood type but the fetus she’s carrying is Rh-positive.

“In some pregnant women, Rh disease causes their antibodies to attack the fetus’s red blood cells. Scientists needed a way to turn this reaction off, and in Harrison’s blood, they found it: a rare antibody known as Rh (D) immune globulin or anti-D.

“Doctors believe Harrison has anti-D because of the blood he received at age 14. And so Harrison became the first anti-D donor in Australia ā€” and the most prolific.”

There are many iterations of the story, from CNN to Medical Daily when one Googles James Harrison blood donor.

He, with over 1000 donations of blood plasma, averages one donation every three weeks. He makes my 150 or so donations, mostly whole blood, seem like a piker’s effort.

ABC Wednesday – Round 18

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

21 thoughts on “J is for James Harrison, blood donor”

  1. I’m ashamed to say that I have never donated blood and I really have no excuse as for many years my office was just a minute walk from the donor centre down the corridor. I’m afraid it was my morbid fear of needles that prevented me from doing my civic duty.

  2. As opposed to the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who has caused over 100 opponents to donate blood. Whether they wanted to or not. šŸ˜€

  3. What a great contribution to help sick people.
    I used to be a donor but can’t do it any more
    because of my dratted RA but I am an organ donor,
    only when I’ve snuffed it mind !

    ABCW team.

  4. Great tribute to a man who had literally given his blood to save the lives of so many babies.
    Thanks Roger to draw our attention to this important work.

    Wil, ABCW Team

  5. Blood donation has been very well. This way you can help people. Unfortunately I have Multiple Sclerosis. Therefore I can not be a blood donor. And no organ donor. My brains, nervous system and eyes go after my death to the brain bank. For science to MS

  6. Fascinating, an amazing man. Looks like an impressive amount of Shiraz wine behind him, hope he shares wine and blood. Well done you too for all those pints. I never made it to anywhere near that amount before not being able to give any more.

  7. I`d heard about this man and his amazing donations and lives saved. Truly remarkable. Great choice for J.
    Thanks so much for stopping by.

  8. Great post on such a hero. I have RH negative blood and never knew it until I was pregnant with our first child. In the photo Pat Nixon is the one you asked about.

  9. My dad couldn’t donate; he had received treatment for malaria with quinine during WWII. He always told his daughters we should donate blood whenever possible, and do it because he could not. I don’t know whether my sisters do it, but I do. Had iron deficiency and could not donate for years (struggles with bulimia), but I am “hale and hearty” now. The dividends are shared with so many when we are able to take the time. Amy

  10. My husband too started as blood donor since he was 18 and had to stop when he was over 60. He made it to the silver medal which he received from the Princess Royal of Belgium. I think it is so important that people give their blood to save lives !

  11. My dad and my ex husband both donated for as long as they could. We need more James Harrisons in the world. Thanks for sharing.

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