Thursday, June 11, 2015

Man’s Blood Saves More Than Two Million Babies

by Robbie Couch
Huffington Post

"The Man with the Golden Arm" may sound like the name of some superhero in a comic book. But the nickname doesn't belong to someone donning a cape and fighting villains on his down time.

It belongs to 78-year-old James Harrison -- an Australian man who has donated blood almost every week for about 60 years, saving more than 2 million babies in the process.

In a recent profile featured on CNN, Harrison opened up about why he chooses to donate, even though it's not the most pleasurable experience: "Never once have I watched the needle go in my arm. I can't stand the sight of blood, and I can't stand pain."

An incredibly unique antibody in Harrison's blood makes it a true lifesaver for babies who could be affected by rhesus disease.

The condition occurs during some pregnancies, when a woman who has rhesus-negative blood produces antibodies that destroy her babies' cells. This can happen when the baby inherits rhesus-positive blood from the father.

As the University of Rochester Medical Center points out, Rhesus disease can cause anemia and organ enlargement in babies, among many other complications. It can even be fatal.

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