James Harrison has been donating blood plasma for 57 years. Today is his 1000th donation.
When Harrison was just 14, he had a lung removed, “when I came out of the operation, or a couple days after, my father was explaining what had happened. He said I had [received] 13 litres of blood and my life had been saved by unknown people.”
From then on, Harrison decided he would devote his life to paying it forward. It wasn’t until he began donating that he realised his blood contained a vital antibody needed to make life saving injections for mothers.
Called Anti-D, Harrison’s plasma is present within every vaccine for Rhesus disease in Australia. The disease, which affects 17% per cent of pregnant women, occurs when their blood starts attacking their unborn babies.
At age 78, Harrison has saved an estimated 2.4 million babies.
His daughter Tracey needed the injection when pregnant with her second son and was shocked at just how much her father had achieved.
“Dad had always donated, we knew that. But until I was pregnant and knew the consequences I had no idea, then it hit home” said Tracey Mellowship.
Her son just turned 16 and donated blood for the first time, alongside Harrison.
“It’s like the master and the apprentice” said Harrison.
He now holds the Guinness World Record for the amount of blood given by one person. But he hopes it won’t be held for long.
“I can honestly say I hope it’s broken, because if someone does, then it means they have broken 1000 donations.”