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Medicine Australia News Science

James Harrison, Who Has Helped Save Lives of More Than 2.4 Million Australian Babies, Retires (cnn.com) 97

Most people, when they retire, get a gold watch. James Harrison deserves so much more than that. From a report: Harrison, known as the "Man With the Golden Arm," has donated blood nearly every week for 60 years. After all those donations, the 81-year-old Australian man "retired" Friday. The occasion marked the end of a monumental chapter. According to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, he has helped saved the lives of more than 2.4 million Australian babies. Harrison's blood has unique, disease-fighting antibodies that have been used to develop an injection called Anti-D, which helps fight against rhesus disease. This disease is a condition where a pregnant woman's blood actually starts attacking her unborn baby's blood cells. In the worst cases, it can result in brain damage, or death, for the babies.

James Harrison, Who Has Helped Save Lives of More Than 2.4 Million Australian Babies, Retires

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    But we cannot rely on a lucky individual realizing their luck and sharing so readily.
    Why do so many Australians get rhesus? Even over 60 years that is a lot for something so serious.
    Is there another way to fight this disease?
    Hopefullly special blood isn't the only solution.

    • Re:It was a good run (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @06:12PM (#56605322)

      We should use CRISPR to splice his gene for the anit-body into another donor.

      A bone marrow transplant might also work.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You're a fucking... oh wait, this is a gross misuse of the word fucking. There is no sex going on.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          For Unlawful CRISPR Knowledge - ing
      • We should use CRISPR to splice his gene for the anit-body into another donor.

        "We"? Who is part of that "we" with you?

    • There are 160 other donors in Australia alone. He was just the first.

      He also didn't retire, he was retired as they were worried about his health (he'd continued to donate after the legal cut off age)

      • by dcrisp ( 267918 )

        I believe they LET / ASKED him to keep donating after the usual Age cut off date because they needed his blood and he was a very good producer of what they needed. But he finally reached the age where even the blood bank said "yeah nah Maaaaaaate! thanks! been wonderful, but we really don't want to kill you so this is your last"

        • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

          I've seen this report on some other websites and the comments can be difficult to swallow.

          Some people actually believe he should continue to donate - that the benefit outweighs the risk.

          He's had one lung since 14, and his donations have positively affected MILLIONS of lives, yet some people opine that he should continue.

          I don't think those people have any idea how long even minor puncture wounds can take to heal, and how degraded your immune system is, by that age. You're at greater risk of infection, even

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That is some legacy.

  • Nearly every week? (Score:4, Informative)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Sunday May 13, 2018 @08:12PM (#56605772)

    I think not.

    TFA says he donated a bit over 1100 times over 60 years.

    For the calendar-challenged among us, there are 3128 weeks in 60 years. And 1100 is NOT almost 3128....

    Note that this should not be read to denigrate the phenomenal amount of blood this guy donated over the years. Just the idiots who put "nearly every week" into TFA....

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @01:38AM (#56606648)
      He's actually donating plasma, not blood. The Australian Red Cross allows you to donate plasma every 2-3 weeks [donateblood.com.au]. Which falls right in line with 1100 donations in 3128 weeks.

      Blood donations are limited to once every 12 weeks in Australia. The American Red Cross limits blood donations to every 8 weeks. Plasma (and platelet) donations to every 7 days, up to 24 times a year (once every 2.2 weeks).
      • The Australian Red Cross allows you to donate plasma every 2-3 weeks [donateblood.com.au]. Which falls right in line with 1100 donations in 3128 weeks.

        Quite so. That's right in line with him donating pretty much every chance he had to do so. Wonderful example for all of us, frankly.

        And if TFA had said that, my post wouldn't have used words like "idiots" to describe the people who wrote TFA....

    • by Minupla ( 62455 ) <minupla@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 14, 2018 @07:30AM (#56607440) Homepage Journal

      Speaking as a father whose daughter survived because of this injection (not his exactly - we're on the other side of the world), but who cares really) I'd just like to publicly thank this man for his time and humanity. It's easy to poke fun at the statistics and such, but let's all take a moment to acknowledge that this gentleman took time out of his life EVERY WEEK FOR 60 YEARS to give something precious that improved lives for millions of people.

      Imagine you and your wife (or vice versa) are in your first trimester and she starts bleeding a bit. You rush to ER and they do blood work, and you realize to your horror that your blood is killing your child. And then the doctors say to your wife "sign here, we've made a vaccine that we're going to give you that should stop it". I literally sobbed.

      My daughter is playing on her computer behind me as I type this and can't see the tears in my eyes.

      Give the man a medal.

      Min

      • by cshamis ( 854596 )
        Well said.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Nearly the same situation here. The only reason I'm the father of 3 boys instead of only my oldest is because of some person like this willingly donating their time and biology to help people like us. Thank you to those people AND for the intelligent biologists, scientists, and doctors who figured all this stuff out to begin with. I'm very thankful for the day and age we live in, and I know my wife and sons are too.

        I fully support your idea to give this man a metal, maybe name a hospital after him too.

        Si

  • by Anonymous Coward

    My wife required several Anti-D injections throughout her pregnancy, so thanks mate!

  • Starring Frank Sinatra & Kim Novak

    A strung-out junkie deals with a demoralizing drug addiction while his crippled wife and card sharks pull him down.

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0... [imdb.com]

  • This is not just any other blood donor. This law makes no sense if he is saving lives and wants to give. The decision makers need to explain how they plan to justify this to the parents of the dead or brain damaged children.

    I'm sure there are countries that would provide free room and board at a 5 star hotel just to get his blood.

    • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

      Seriously? There has to be a line drawn somewhere. What's *your* opinion on when it should stop?

      He's already saved more lives than you ever could. There *are* other people with his blood type, you know.

  • This man is a living hero who selflessly gave so that the least among us could live.
    He will need a few allies to offset the efforts of Cecile Richards, who surpassed his number by a wide margin in the other direction.
    But this is what progress looks like.

  • He's not the man with the "Golden Arm," but the man with the Golden Heart. The DNA of such a person should be saved, archived for study now or in the future. Actually, there should be a voluntary world DNA bank of extraordinary people for study.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    He had to retire, he was feeling a little drained.

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.

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