Extreme Humans

James Harrison – Man With The Golden Arm

James Christopher Harrison popularly dubbed as ‘man with the golden arm’ or the ‘man in two million’, is an Australian plasma blood donor. He has an antibody in his plasma that stops babies dying from Rhesus disease, a form of severe anemia. Mr. Harrison has been giving blood every few weeks since he was 18 years old and has now made over 1000 donations. According to the Australian Red Cross, he has saved some two million babies since he began donating.

James Christopher Harrison
James Christopher Harrison

James Harrison Superhuman Superpower

“Every bag of blood is precious, but James’ blood is particularly extraordinary”. Rhesus disease that creates an incompatibility between the mother’s blood and her unborn baby’s blood was killing thousands of babies every year in Australia. Mr. Harrison gladly volunteered to undergo a series of tests to help develop the Anti-D vaccine on the discovery of an antibody in his blood. This vaccine prevents women with rhesus-negative blood from developing RhD antibodies during pregnancy. Australia was one of the first countries to discover a blood donor with this antibody. Doctors still aren’t exactly sure why Harrison has this rare blood type but they think it might be from the transfusions he received when he was 14, after his lung surgery.

Born

James Harrison was born on 27 December, 1936 in Australia.

Early Life of James Harrison

At the age of 14, he underwent major chest surgery where they removed a lung and he requires 5 liters of blood for his survival. Realizing the blood donated by unknown people had saved his life, he made a pledge to start donating blood as soon as he turned 18, the then-required age. And two days after he turned 18, he became a donor and he has been donating for over 60 years now.

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About James Harrison

James Harrison is an inspiration to ordinary people who can donate blood and save the lives of others. As a 14 years old boy, he spent 3 months in the hospital after he had a chest surgery. Along with having a lung removed, he received 2 gallons of blood from strangers which saved his life. After his surgery, he had a conversation with his dad- a regular blood donor on how his life was saved by unknown people and made a vow to donate blood when he clocks eighteen.

In 1954, he started donating blood and the doctors noticed an antigen deposited in his blood. The uniqueness of his blood was considered so important that his life was insured for one million dollars. He gladly underwent further procedures so that Anti-D immune globulin commonly known as ‘RhoGAM’ can be created.

He is referred to as a superhero because his blood’s donation since 1954 were estimated to have saved over two million babies, with pregnant mothers, including his daughter Tracey and grandson.

Harrison never fail to make a donation even during his holidays, he makes sure to stop by a donor center. As at 2011, Harrison made his 1000th donation which was possible because he has been donating every three weeks since his eighteenth birthday. At the milestone celebration of his philanthropic journey, Harrison stated that his record should be one of those that needs to be broken regularly.

On 7 June 1999, he was awarded Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). Harrison was nominated for Australian of the Year though he did not win. He was also nominated in the New South Wales Local Hero division of the Australian of the Year awards.

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James Harrison, now over 90 years old, has become a poster-boy of blood donation and a great example for raising awareness to promote blood donation globally.

Genetic or Learned

Harrison’s superpower is genetic. Though doctors can’t explain how he came about this unique blood, it is believed to have emerge from the various transfusion he received during his chest surgery in his early life.

Names Known By

  • Man with the Golden Arm
  • Man in two million
  • Man with the golden blood

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James Harrison – Man With The Golden Arm
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