'Man With the Golden Arm' Retires From Donating Blood After Saving More Than 2 Million Babies
One of the most prolific blood donors in the world has completed his final blood drive. Nicknamed "The Man With the Golden Arm," James Harrison of Australia has given blood more than 1100 times in the last 60 years, Mashable reports.
He said he would have kept donating, too, had it not been for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service's rule that donors can only give blood up until their 81st birthday.
Harrison's blood carries a rare antibody that has helped save the babies of more than 2 million Australian women. The antibody is used to create a medication called Anti-D, which helps fight rhesus disease, a condition in which antibodies in a pregnant woman's blood attack her unborn baby's blood cells. Prior to 1967, when the Anti-D program was rolled out in Australia, many babies died from the disease. Harrison just happened to be the first Anti-D donor in the country.
After undergoing chest surgery at age 14, Harrison pledged to thank his anonymous blood donors by paying it forward. He has also donated plasma, which is similar to the process of donating blood, except the plasma is separated out and the blood is returned to the donor's body.
In recognition of his service, Harrison received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1999 and was also added to the Guinness Book of World Records in 2003 for having donated the most blood. However, according to online records, this record has since been broken—a show of dedication that Harrison no doubt approves of.