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James Harrison: Australian Man With Special Blood Type Saves 2 Million Babies

James Harrison

First Posted: 05/24/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 04:55 PM ET

When Australian man James Harrison was just 14 years old, he received a life-saving blood transfusion during an invasive chest surgery. Grateful for this gift, Harrison pledged to pay it forward by becoming a blood donor when he was old enough.

True to his word, after turning 18, he became a regular donor. Now, at 74 years old, he has donated blood an astounding 984 times. This alone would be an extraordinary feat, but Harrison's unique blood type makes his gift so special he's been called the man with the golden arm.

Harrison has a rare antibody in his blood that can save babies with Rhesus disease, a deadly form of anemia. Because of his unique blood type, Harrison was also asked to undergo testing to help doctors find a way to prevent the disease. Over his 56 years of donating blood and helping to find cures, it is estimated that Harrison's contributions have saved over 2 million babies.

Even after the recent passing of his wife of 56 years, Harrison remains dedicated to his cause.

"It was sad but life marches on and we have to continue doing what we do. She's up there looking down, so I carry on."

He looks forward to making his 1,000th donation later this year.

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Filed by Erica Liepmann  |