James Harrison was 14 years old and could not help but wonder, “Why me?” He had just undergone an eleven-hour-long surgery to remove a lung. He required 13 units of blood to save his life and still had to spend the next three months in a hospital. Troublesome times for an Australian teenager in 1951.
Realizing that a horde of blood donors had saved his life, James pledged that when old enough, he too would donate blood. True to his commitment, soon after his 18th birthday, he started making regular blood donations. It wasn’t long, however, before doctors discovered that James’ blood had special antibodies, extremely rare antibodies that could be used in creating medication given to pregnant mothers with Rh-negative blood-types to protect their Rh+ babies from developing a potentially deadly disease known as HDN or Rhesus D Hemolytic Disease. This is a condition where a pregnant woman’s blood actually starts attacking her unborn baby’s blood. Thanks to James’ “special antibodies,” his blood could be used to make “Anti-D” injections.
Once Doctors made him aware of the unique qualities of his blood, James began donating his blood plasma every two weeks. He has done so now for the past 64 years. In 1999, James Harrison was awarded the Australian Medal of Honor in recognition of his generosity. More recently, an article in the Sydney Morning Herald trumpeted this remarkable lifetime achievement. Now considered a national hero, this “Man with the Golden Arm,” has made 1,173 blood donations over 64 years and has been credited with saving the lives of 2.4 million babies. That’s a million as in a whole lot of healthy babies and happy mommas. Ponder that for a minute.
And James hates needles.
I cannot help but be impressed with this man’s lifetime contributions. How ironic that this may never have happened apart from the traumas and difficulties he suffered early in his life.
This also reminds me of the old Gospel song, “There’s Power in the Blood.” The life-saving qualities of the blood of James Harrison serve as a metaphorical reminder that the blood of another has life-saving qualities on an eternal level.
Matthew 26:28 “…this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
And that’s worth pondering too!