He's known as the 'Man with the Golden Arm', but he's no Bond Villain. James Harrison is a medical marvel. The 78-year-old Australian has saved the lives of more than two million babies by rolling up his sleeves. Mr Harrison says he never watches the needle go in when he turns up for his weekly blood plasma donation at Australian Red Cross clinics.
"I look at the nurses, the ceiling, the spots on the wall, anything but the needle. It's too macabre, I think; watching yourself get stuck with the needle," Mr Harrison said. The septuagenarian from the Central Coast has donated 800mL of blood plasma almost every week for the last 60 years. "That's 1105 donations. It'll be 1106 on Tuesday," he said.
The exceptional antibodies in Mr Harrison's blood plasma have thwarted a deadly disease that killed thousands of Australian babies every year until the 1960s. Rhesus disease occurs when a mother has rhesus-negative blood (RhD-negative) and her fetus inherits the father's RhD-positive blood type. Their blood types were essentially incompatible. But Mr Harrison's blood held the key to protecting newborns from the disease.