Australian man James Harrison, 81, has donated blood 1,173 times, saving the lives of 2.4 million babies, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Regardless of what the reason is, the publication stressed that Harrison always remained humble during each succeeding blood donation he made.
At 14, Harrison made a pledge that he would donate blood when he turned 18 after a major chest surgery that required 13-liters (0.26 gal) of blood. That could be deadly for the baby.
After helping to save the babies of more than two million Australian women, an 81-year-old blood donor with a precious antibody has officially "retired" from his selfless duty.
Soon after donating, he was found to have Rhesus-negative (Rh-) blood and Rhesus-positive (Rh+) antibodies. So he started making blood plasma donations every week.
"Rh" refers to the Rh factor- a protein on the surface of red blood cells.
This disease is a condition where a pregnant woman's blood actually starts attacking her unborn baby's blood cells.
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If a mother is Rh-negative and her unborn baby is Rh-positive, they have Rh incompatibility- and that can be a problem. This prevents the mother from developing an immunity from the baby's blood. 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.
"Women were having numerous miscarriages, and babies were being born with brain damage."
"It becomes quite humbling when they say, "oh you've done this or you've done that or you're a hero", said Harrison, who was awarded the Order of Australia, the country's highest honour, in 1999. As her body starts feeling the baby's blood cells as a "foreign threat", she may then start producing antigens that can be prove to be unsafe for the baby.
As recalled by the Washington Post, Harrison chose to become a blood donor when he was 14-years-old, after he survived a chest operation that required the removal of one of his lungs, keeping him in the hospital for three months.
More than three million doses of Anti-D containing Mr Harrison's blood have been given to Australian mothers with a negative blood type since 1967. "It's one of my talents, probably my only talent, is that I can be a blood donor". On Friday, he made his final donation, having reached the maximum age allowed for donors in Australia.
"I'd keep on going if they'd let me", he told the Herald.