Retiring From Donating Blood At 81 Years Old

He’s 81, has donated more than 1,173 times, and saved more than 2.4 million babies, and he’s retiring from donating for good.

By DAVID on May 14, 2018
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images for NZ Blood)

A man named James Harrison has donated blood more than 1173 times over the past 60 years. His blood has helped save more than 2.4 million babies. He’s retiring from blood donating after giving his last donation last week. We’ll get to all your questions below.

James Harrison has been donating blood for more than 60 years. During that time, his blood has been used to help save countless babies all over. He has donated more than 1,173 times (which works out to about 800ml of blood once a week for 60 years). For his donations, he has been awarded a couple different awards. One in 1999 as a thanks for his time and his donations, he was given a Medal of the Order of Australia. In 2003, he was given another award for the most blood donated by a single person. He was also named “the man with the golden arm.”

The reason behind why he donated so much blood starts about 67 years ago. When he was 14, he had to have a lung removed. During the surgery, he received about 13 units of blood. After coming out of surgery, he decided that he too would like to donate blood once he was old enough. What’s unusual about his own blood is that it’s a little rare. His blood has antibodies that combat Rhesus D hemolytic disease. That’s the disease that causes a pregnant woman’s blood to attack her own baby’s blood. The Red Cross says that his donations have saved an estimated 2.4 million babies over the past 60 years.

So, good on Mr. Harrison for all his donations over the years. He’s having to retire because of his age though. In Australia, if you’re over 71 years old they typically don’t like you to donate. It’s a matter of your own health and safety once you get past that age. He was able to keep going through 81 though, and is estimated to be one of just 50 people in Australia with that unique blood quality. “It’s a sad day for me… The end of a long run,” he said about his final donation. James is considered a national hero in Australia. A hero he is, for sure. See more on James here, and more on Rhesus D hemolytic disease too.

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