All the way back in 1951, a 14-year-old boy James Harrison needed 13 units of blood to survive a life-threatening operation to remove two thirds of his left lung. Blood donation saved his life that day and now the same boy wants to return the favor and give back.
After the operation my – I was talking to my father naturally, and he being a blood donor went through and said you know my life had been saved by 13 litres of blood by people that we didn’t know and I said well, at that time probably a throwaway line, “As soon as I’m 18 I will become a blood donor.” And two days after I turned 18, I became a donor and I’ve been donating for 60 years now.
Mandi Samie reported this news as she interviewed James Morrison. She adds that the Australian Red Cross says those 60 years of donations have saved more than 2 million lives. It says a regular blood donation has the potential to save 17 lives, but Mr Harrison’s blood saves even more.
Jemma Falkenmire, spokeswoman for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, says the reason is he has exceptional antibodies in his blood plasma that fight a deadly disease that has killed thousands of Australian babies.
So what is special about James’ blood is his blood type. So most people know that your blood type can be positive or negative. What people don’t generally know is that the difference between a mother’s blood and that of her unborn baby can be fatal for the baby. Essentially the mother’s blood and the baby’s blood become incompatible and the baby – the mother’s blood attacks the baby. So effectively yeah his antibody’s really making sure that, you know, thousands of babies are not at risk of that happening.
Hemolytic disease of the newborn, also known as hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn, HDN, HDFN, or erythroblastosis fetalis is actually an alloimmune condition that develops in a fetus, when the IgG molecules (one of the five main types of antibodies) produced by the mother pass through the placenta. Among these antibodies are some which attack the red blood cells in the fetal circulation; the red blood cells are broken down excessively and the fetus can develop reticulocytosis (immature red blood cells are released into circulation) and anemia.
James Morrison adds that basically the life they save can be their own or perhaps an hour of your time could be a life time for somebody else. Roll up your sleeve and make a donation. It’s painless. I can’t stand pain, I’m very allergic to pain and I can do it so I believe anybody can do it.
“It makes you feel good that you’re put on this earth and you can do something like that.My own daughter was – I had it – she had to get an injection for her second child and that sort of keeps you going. I’m up here in Queensland at the moment in Maroochydore and I’ll be going on Tuesday to make my 1,106th donation.”
Become a blood donater and save lives!
For more information on how to donate blood: http://www.redcross.org/blood