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Man who saved 2.4 million babies by donating blood 'retires'

Man who saved 2.4 million babies by donating blood 'retires'

Regardless of what the reason is, the publication stressed that Harrison always remained humble during each succeeding blood donation he made.

Around 10 years later, doctors found that Harrison's blood contained an antibody necessary to create an Anti-D immunoglobin, which helps fight against rhesus disease. That could be deadly for the baby.

Harrison's blood is just as extraordinary as his blood donation history.

The 81-year-old made his last blood donation on Friday after having helped save the babies of more than two million Australian women, according to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. He's known, unsurprisingly, as "the man with the golden arm".

"It's a sad day for me". This event was celebrated by a number of parents whose babies' lives were saved by the Anti-D injection, as four balloons spelling out the number 1,173 hovered above Harrison's head as he prepared to make his final donation.

Harrison's blood can help women and unborn babies with Rh incompatibility.

When the mother's Rh- blood mixes with Rh+ blood, the mother's blood starts to develop an immunity to the Rh+ blood cells. People who have Rh factor are Rh-positive, and people who don't are Rh-negative, the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) explains. They realized they could administer Anti-D to mothers and save the babies. Without the injections, the next baby could suffer from hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn, known as HDN or HDFN, which can be fatal. In acute cases, the disease can lead to brain damage or even death for the unborn babies.

It is uncommon these days because it can usually be prevented using injections of anti-D immunoglobulin. It's made from the plasma of donors like Harrison.

The woman's body responds to the RhD positive blood by producing antibodies (infection-fighting molecules) that recognise the foreign blood cells and destroy them.

Many women are given doses at the 28th week of pregnancy and again within 72 hours of giving birth, the Stanford Children's Health website adds.

Doctors believe Harrison's blood contains these special antibodies because of a blood transfusion he received at age 14 when he underwent a major chest surgery. "It's one of my talents, probably my only talent, is that I can be a blood donor".

Jemma Falkenmire, spokesperson for the Blood Service, said: 'Australia owes a big thank you to James Harrison.

"I had 13 units of blood and my life had been saved by unknown people", Harrison told CNN in an earlier interview. James Harrison deserves so much more than that.

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