There are also people living in the age of superheroes who, at first glance, would not know that saving a life is their profession – including an Australian man who has saved the lives of newborns in their 80s.
Not all people can say for themselves that they have saved even a single life: it is a real rarity for someone to help thousands of people. Australian blood donor and modern-day hero James Harrison was able to do this because it turned out that his blood could provide a solution to the problem of Rh conflict, which poses a potentially deadly threat to newborns. The man also referred to as the “golden-armed man,” donated blood from the age of eighteen to the age of eighty-one.
What makes someone a hero?
The meaning of the word hero has changed over time, but the character of modern-day heroes also has points in common. In addition to courage, sacrifice, a sense of justice, strength, reason, and modesty, the ability to save a life is what makes someone a true hero.
It turned out by accident
Harrison was born in 1936 in Unima, New South Wales. At the age of fourteen, he found that he needed thirteen gallons of blood for a life-saving chest surgery that he had to undergo. She was immensely grateful for the blood she received after the successful surgery and decided that at the age of eighteen she would also be a blood donor.
Only ten years after he began donating blood regularly, researchers discovered that Harrison’s blood was different from that of the average person:
IT CONTAINS ANTI-D IMMUNOGLOBULIN, AN ANTIBODY THAT IS KNOWN TO CAUSE NEONATAL DISEASE KNOWN AS RH INCOMPATIBILITY.
Although not entirely certain, researchers believe the special feature may have something to do with the blood transfusion the man received during his surgery nearly fifteen years ago. After the uniqueness of his blood was discovered, he began using Harrison’s life-saving blood for decades.
A real hero
Harrison has protected many babies from Rh incompatibility with many blood donations. The condition can occur in many mother-baby couples if the mother’s blood is Rh-negative but the father’s and fetus’ blood is Rh-positive.
THE CONDITION DOES NOT POSE A DIRECT THREAT TO THE MOTHER, BUT THE DISEASE CAN CAUSE A VARIETY OF PROBLEMS IN THE FETUS, INCLUDING JAUNDICE, BRAIN DAMAGE, ANEMIA, AND HEART PROBLEMS.
In more severe cases, they can even lead to the death of the baby.
Harrison was very happy to be able to help many with his blood alone in case of Rh incompatibility: by administering an Anti-D preparation made from his blood, the fetus was safe. According to an article about Harrison, “more than three million does of Anti-D have been given to mothers since 1967”. There was no small number of babies Harrison could help in almost six decades.
A small flaw?
It’s useless to have a “super blood” if you don’t have the intention to donate blood next to it: Harrison’s selflessness also contributed so much to help. This is especially important given the fact that the man is afraid of the needle.
Harrison said this:
“I LOOK AT THE NURSES, THE CEILING, THE STAINS ON THE WALL, EVERYTHING BUT THE NEEDLE.”
For sixty years, the Australian man selflessly set aside his fears for others and allowed blood to be taken from him. The man last donated blood in Sydney and still lives in the city today. Many grateful mothers were there to witness the great farewell event and to thank Harrison for the countless past donations. But Harrison isn’t the type of man who did what he did for glory: his selflessness was a significant factor in his blood donation, making it just an even bigger hero in the eyes of others.
He didn’t want to stop
If it was up to him, he wouldn’t have stopped waiting at the age of 81, knowing that his blood was valuable and could save many more lives with it, but Red Cross experts advised him to stop making regular donations for his health.
So on the day of his last blood donation, Harrison said, “This is a sad day for me. The end of a long journey. I would continue if they left. ” Harrison gave blood 1173 times: that roughly means he was stabbed every three weeks. It also set a world record for the blood donated most often by a person.
There is much to learn from a hero with a powerful story like James Harrison: being a hero not only means what we are able to do directly for others, but the qualities of selflessness and commitment are also important factors in becoming a hero.