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14 May 2018, 02:35 | Rodolfo Wallace
Australian blood donor James Harrison has made his last blood donation having helped save the babies of more than two million Australian women
Every batch of Anti-D that has ever been made in Australia has come from James' blood.
James Harrison's blood has a precious antibody that is used to make a lifesaving medication called Anti-D, a medicine given to mothers whose blood is at risk of attacking their unborn babies.
The Blood Solution is likewise today releasing a require even more male benefactors to adhere to in Mr Harrison's footprints.
After a few years of donating, doctors were shocked to find that his blood contained an antibody that directly neutralizes rhesus disease: a risky condition in which a pregnant woman's blood attacks her unborn child.
The Australian Red Cross Blood Service announced that Harrison made 1,100 donations in total, which went toward saving the lives of more than 2.4 million infants in need of blood transfusions.
When Mr Harrison started donating, his blood was deemed so special that his life was insured for one million Australian dollars. Australia became the first country in the world to be self-sufficient in the supply of Anti-D. "Women were having miscarriages and babies were being born with brain damage".
Harrison had received blood donations himself as a 14-year-old and had a surgery to remove his lung.
HDN caused the death of thousands of babies in Australia before the researchers discovered Anti-D injection in the 60s.
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The discovery of Harrison's antibodies was an absolute game changer, Australian officials said.
One of the countless mothers he has helped over the decades is Joy Barnes, who works at the Red Cross Blood Bank in Sydney.
Using plasma extracted from Harrison's blood, doctors devised the Anti-D injection, which was first given in 1967 to a pregnant woman at Australia's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. That's a unsafe condition that develops when a woman has rhesus-negative blood (RhD negative) and has a baby in her womb with RhD positive blood.
The disease occurs in pregnant women with Rh-negative blood.
During pregnancy, some of the baby's blood can cross into the mother's bloodstream.
If the mother has been sensitized to rhesus-positive blood, usually during a previous pregnancy with an rhesus-positive baby, she may produce antibodies that destroy the baby's "foreign" blood cells.
The antibodies can continue attacking the baby's red blood cells for a few months after birth. This is known as Rhesus disease.
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