Have you ever given blood? I have, only once I’m ashamed to say. A simple process, taking only 8 to 10 minutes of your day, can help up to three different people. Not bad, helping three people with just a little poke of a needle and a glass of orange juice and cookies. To be honest, helping three people made me feel pretty good that day; but can you imagine your donation helping 2.4 million babies?
Let me introduce you to James Harrison, an Australian man whose blood contains a rare gift needed by millions of babies.
Mr. Harrison’s story comes into play way back when he was 13 years old. He developed an almost deadly case of bronchitis that led to him having surgery to removing a damaged lung. During the surgery he required a transfusion of 13 liters of blood. Keep in mind that the average body has about 5 liters total, Mr. Harrison received almost three times that much in attempts to get him through surgery. He remained in the hospital for three months. Knowing it was a blood donation that saved his life the young man vowed to become a blood donor as soon as he was 18; which he did. That was 1955.
After a few donations had been received it was discovered that the blood flowing through Mr. Harrison’s veins contains a rare antibody that can save newborns from a potentially fatal condition caused Rhesus disease. This disease comes about when a mother’s blood type is Rh-negative but the baby’s blood type is Rh-positive. This blood incompatibility causes the mother’s body and immune system to react defensively and begin attacking the baby’s blood.
It was discovered that prior to Mr. Harrison’s surgery when he was 13 he did not possess these antibodies. It was through a mistake that he was given Rh-positive blood instead of Rh-negative; which was his type match. His body created the antibodies within itself, allowing the blood transfusions to save his life.
Now, one in ten pregnant women at risk for Rhesus disease is given blood plasma derivatives directly from Mr. Harrison. However, the issue really hit home when he was able to donate the antibodies to his daughter Tracey while she was pregnant with her second son.
Blood plasma can only be donated as often as every two to three weeks. In May of 2011 he made his 1000th donation; now consistently donating for 57 years. He’s been asked if he feels like a hero, he humbly answers no, that real heroes go to war.
Well, I, for one, feel that Mr. Harrison is quite a hero! Taking the ability, time, or natural resources you have to help others and making a difference in the world are what makes real heroes!
This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October. Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.