James Harrison is making his 1075th blood donation

James donates blood ... for the 1075th time

A BRUISE the size of a 10 cent piece rests in the crook of James Harrison's right arm, a reminder of his 1068 blood donations.

"I don't feel it," he said, sitting comfortably in a donor's chair.

The 77-year-old's sturdy right arm has borne the brunt of all but seven of his record 1075 donations to the blood service.

Mr Harrison was at Maroochydore Blood Donor Centre yesterday, living up to his nickname of the man with the golden arm.

Mr Harrison holds the Guinness World Record for blood donations.

He spends the winter months on the Sunshine Coast, caravanning with friends as he has for 12 years.

When he's on the Coast he always pops into the centre to make his donation, for the rest of the year he visits his local clinic on the New South Wales central coast.

But what makes his O negative blood extra special is it contains Anti D antibodies.

"I started donating in 1955, two days after I turned 18," Mr Harrison said.

"When I was only 14 I had a lung removed and I received 13 transfusions which encouraged me to be a donor; it was only fair I thought.

"Then I was doing the normal five times a year which is all you can do in whole blood, saving three lives in each donation."

OLD HAND: Nurse Louise Taylor prepares James Harrison for his 1075th blood donation.
OLD HAND: Nurse Louise Taylor prepares James Harrison for his 1075th blood donation. Patrick Woods

Mr Harrison said in 1966 the Anti D antibody was discovered and he already had it in his system.

"I donated as much as I could, 27 times a year and I kept donating and my late wife was also an Anti D donor," he said.

Anti D is given to a mother during pregnancy and after the baby's birth to combat problems caused by positive or negative differences between a mother's blood and that of her unborn baby.

There are only 200 Anti D donors in Australia.

"My own daughter had to get an injection of what I produced because she was a negative (blood type) mother and he was a positive (blood type) husband."

Mr Harrison now donates 32 times a year and aims to reach his milestone of 1111 donations next year.

He plans to continue donating until he reaches the 'retiring' age of 81.

Blood Service spokeswoman Rebecca Ind said Mr Harrison's donations would have saved about 2.4 million babies.

"About 17% of all pregnant mums receive Anti D during their pregnancy," she said.

"When I was pregnant with my daughter I also needed the Anti D transfusion so it's not until you're on the receiving end that you really appreciate the value."

But Mr Harrison didn't value his donations over anyone else's.

"I don't think it's any more special than a person giving their first donation, they're saving lives, I'm doing my best," he said.

"I'd like to see more people turning up and saving lives, it could be their own - who knows - or someone close by.

"There's nothing to it, 20 minutes of their time is a lifetime for someone else."



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