He donated blood every week for 60 years and saved the lives of 2.4 million babies

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 5/14/2018, 11:47 a.m.
Most people, when they retire, get a gold watch. James Harrison deserves so much more than that. Harrison, known as ...
James Harrison, known as the "Man With the Golden Arm," has donated blood nearly every week for 60 years.

"In Australia, up until about 1967, there were literally thousands of babies dying each year, doctors didn't know why, and it was awful. Women were having numerous miscarriages and babies were being born with brain damage," Jemma Falkenmire, of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, told CNN in 2015. "Australia was one of the first countries to discover a blood donor with this antibody, so it was quite revolutionary at the time."

Why he's a national hero

That would be more than two million lives, according to the blood service, and for that Harrison is considered a national hero in Australia. He's won numerous awards for his generosity, including the Medal of the Order of Australia, one of the country's most prestigious honors.

"It becomes quite humbling when they say, 'oh you've done this or you've done that or you're a hero,'" Harrison said. "It's something I can do. It's one of my talents, probably my only talent, is that I can be a blood donor."

Now that Harrison has given his last blood donation (in Australia you can't donate blood past the age of 81), Falkenmire and others hope people with similar antibodies in their blood will step up and donate.

"All we can do is hope there will be people out there generous enough to do it, and selflessly in the way he's done," she said.