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2 million Aussie mums and 1117 bags of blood: baby-saving donor James Harrison retires

Friday 11th May 2018

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Australian blood donor James Harrison will today make his last blood donation, having helped save the babies of more than two million Australian women.

The 81 year-old has a precious antibody in his blood that is used to make a lifesaving medication

(Anti-D) given to mothers whose blood is at risk of attacking, and killing, their unborn babies.

More than 3 million doses of Anti-D containing James’ blood have been issued to Aussie mothers with a negative blood type since 1967.

Anti-D prevents Haemolytic Disease of the Newborn (HDN), which can cause anaemia, enlarged liver and spleen, brain damage, heart failure, and death, in newborns.

Mr Harrison’s kindness leaves a remarkable legacy, and he has put the challenge out to the Australian community to beat it.

“I hope it’s a record that somebody breaks, because it will mean they are dedicated to the cause,” Mr Harrison said of his last donation.

The Blood Service is also today issuing a call for more male donors to follow in Mr Harrison’s footsteps.

“Australia owes a big thank you to James Harrison, Australia became the first country in the world to be self-sufficient in the supply of Anti-D, and cases of HDN are rare,” spokesperson Jemma Falkenmire said

“Medications like Anti-D are a life giving intervention for thousands of Australian mums, but they are only available because men like James give blood,”

“We encourage the partners and friends of all new mothers to think about donating blood, just one donation helps ensure someone has the chance to be a mother.”

To donate blood, please call 13 14 95.