There are all kinds of heroes in this world. Doctors, firefighters, lifeguards, the list goes on. But not all heroes are so easy to spot. For men like James Harrison, heroism is a humble deed, but one that has saved millions of lives.
Nicknamed “The Man With the Golden Arm,” this Australian man has donated blood an astounding 1,100 times over the past 60 years. And, while he didn’t have any desire to stop, the Red Cross prevents donors from giving blood after they turn 81 years old.
Harrison’s journey began when he had chest surgery at the age of 14 and received donated blood. From that day on he made a pledge to thank his anonymous donors and pay their kindness forward by donating both blood and plasma. But what makes his blood so special? It carries a rare antibody that is used to make a medication called “Anti-D” that fights rhesus disease, which many pregnant women suffer from. Rhesus causes a pregnant woman’s blood to attack and destroy her unborn baby’s blood cells. In 1967, Australia began the “Anti-D” program, with Harrison being the first person to donate.
In 1999, Harrison was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service. The Guinness Book of World Records also added him in 2003 for having given the most blood. That record, however, has already been broken, and will hopefully be broken many more times in the future as Harrison and others like him inspire future generations to give life.