Giving the gift of life with 250th blood donation

GIVING: Nick Harrison makes his 250th donation at The Lismore Blood Donor Centre.
GIVING: Nick Harrison makes his 250th donation at The Lismore Blood Donor Centre. Patrick Gorbunovs

LISMORE barrister Nick Harrison has some pretty impressive numbers when it comes to donating blood.

When Mr Harrison made his 250th donation alongside wife Toni yesterday, it was worked out he had given 150 litres of the life-saving fluid. It was also 35 years to the day that he made his first donation at a mobile blood bank in Liverpool St, Sydney.

But what the numbers don't reveal is the personal story that keeps both Nick and Toni Harrison coming back to give their blood again and again.

At the age of 11, their son Robert developed aplastic anaemia, a disease in which the bone marrow does not make enough blood for the body. The life-threatening disease meant he needed a bone marrow transplant to give him a chance of survival. Miraculously, doctors found a bone marrow match in the Harrisons' youngest son, then three-year-old Jeremy.

Robert underwent a transplant with his toddler brother - which meant both sons were put under anaesthetic - and emerged successfully.

Since then, 25 years ago, Robert has shared his little brother's blood type and DNA, having gone from an O- to an A+.

It was a very personal lesson for the Harrisons on the life-saving reality of donating blood.

"The only thing that kept him alive was blood transfusions," Mr Harrison said.

"I was doubly inspired after that. We were very, very lucky," said Toni Harrison, who gave her 59th donation yesterday. "That's what's kept Nick coming as much as possible."

Since the introduction of fortnightly plasma donations, Mr Harrison's visits to the blood donor centre come around with clockwork regularity.

It took him 30 years to reach 150 donations, yet in the last five years alone, he's notched up another 100. He noted while 35 years was a "good effort", if he was living in Sydney all that time he might be up to 1000, since the Red Cross introduced plasma donations there much earlier.

But at 66, Mr Harrison still has plenty of years left to donate. The maximum age is 80, and apparently creeping upwards.

"I'll keep going as long as they take me," he said.

Find out more on donating blood here.



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