Aussie James Harrison has donated 1,117 bags of blood, which contains an antibody used to help treat babies with Rhesus disease, a form of anaemia, which affects babies while they're in the womb and can be fatal. The 81 year-old blood donor is one of the 50 people in Australia that has his blood type. The occasion marked the end of a monumental chapter. The blood donations saved his life, and he decided that once he turned 18, he would begin donating blood as regularly as he could.
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.
The disease occurs in pregnant women with Rh-negative blood. In the worst cases, it can result in brain damage, or death, for the babies. After developing immunity, the mother's antibodies will start attacking the baby's blood the way an immune system attacks foreign invaders. That could be deadly for the baby.
James has just given his blood from his "golden arm" for the last time but the bittersweet moment is nothing short of a memorable for him.
After 1173 donations, the 81-year-old has finally hung up his blood bag.
HDN killed thousands of Australian babies every year before scientists made their breakthrough Anti-D discovery in the 1960s.
Mr Harrison's kindness leaves a remarkable legacy, and he has put the challenge out to the Australian community to beat it.
The antibodies can continue attacking the baby's red blood cells for a few months after birth.
"Every ampule of Anti-D ever made in Australia has James in it". However, an extraordinary Australian man deserves a lot more than that.
In total, James' blood has been used to make over three million doses of Anti-D since 1967, CNN reports. He was even able to donate to help his own daughter, Tracey, to safely have her little boy.
"That resulted in my second grandson being born healthy". So that makes me feel good.
"In Australia, up until about 1967, there were literally thousands of babies dying each year, doctors didn't know why, and it was terrible". They realized they could administer Anti-D to mothers and save the babies. Scientists are collecting and cataloging his DNA to create a library of antibodies and white blood cells that could be the future of the anti-D program in Australia. He's won numerous awards for his generosity, including the Medal of the Order of Australia, one of the country's most prestigious honors. "It's something I can do".
Harrison has now passed the Australian Red Cross's donor age limit, but he told the Sydney Herald he'd "keep on going if they'd let me".
"All we can do is hope there will be people out there generous enough to do it, and selflessly in the way he's done", she said.