When he was just 14 years old, James Harrison needed major chest surgery. He required multiple blood transfusions. Although he recovered, the experience had a profound impact on him.

James Harrison’s surgery was successful in no small part to the generosity of blood donors. It gave him a deep sense of gratitude and a determination to pay forward the gift he had received. He decided to become a blood donor when he turned 18, the age needed at that time.

It turned out that James Harrison’s blood contained a rare antibody.

The man with the golden arm

Multiple miscarriages, brain damage, and stillbirth can occur when a pregnant woman with an Rh-negative blood type is carrying a baby with Rh-positive blood. The woman registers the baby’s red blood cells as a foreign threat (an invading virus or bacteria) and produces antibodies to destroy the invader.

This can lead to a disease known as haemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN). The results can be devastating.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that Australian scientists made the breakthrough discovery.

James Harrison’s blood could be used to create a vaccine known as anti-D to prevent HDN. Now, HDn is uncommon. Routine antenatal screening checks the blood of mother and baby and can inform whether the anti-D vaccination is needed.

James Harrison has helped save an estimated 2.4 million babies.

James began donating blood at the age of 18 and continued to do so every two weeks for over six decades. He stopped at age 81 as the law prevented him from continuing.

He holds the record for the most blood donations made in Australia with over 1,100. He became known as the ‘Man with the Golden Arm’.

World Blood Donor Day

June 14 is World Blood Donor Day.

This 10 to 14 June is Australia’s National Blood Donation Week.

Why? Because blood saves lives. One blood donation can save up to three lives.

Why do we need blood donations?

Blood is needed for various reasons, like surgeries, treating diseases, or helping people who have lost blood due to accidents or illnesses. Without generous blood donors, many lives would be at risk.

What happens to the blood?

When you donate blood, it’s put to immediate use.

After donation, the blood is tested to make sure it’s safe and compatible with the recipient. Then, it’s separated into different components like red blood cells, plasma, and platelets.

Each of these components has unique purposes, such as carrying oxygen, clotting to stop bleeding, or fighting infections.

What kind of uses does it have?

Red blood cells help people with anemia or those who lose blood during surgery.

Platelets are crucial for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Plasma can be turned into medicines to treat people with bleeding disorders or immune deficiencies. Each donation can save multiple lives by providing these essential components to those in need.

How much blood does Gosford Hospital need?

The specific amount of blood used by Gosford Hospital in an average day or operation can vary. It depends on the types of surgeries being performed, the number of patients requiring transfusions, and any emergency situations that may arise.

The Red Cross Blood Service plays a crucial role in maintaining the nation’s blood supply. It organises blood drives, operates donation centres, and coordinates with hospitals to meet the ongoing demand for blood and blood products. Through these efforts, the Red Cross helps to ensure that patients in need of transfusions have access to safe and sufficient blood supplies.

How much blood will be taken if I donate?

Usually, about 470 millilitres of blood will be taken on a single donation. Your body can replace the volume in about 1 to 2 days.

You can donate blood every 12 weeks and plasma every two weeks.

Convinced to make a blood donation?

Good for you and thank you! Blood saves lives!

The day before, drink plenty of water, rest up, and avoid eating very fatty or fried food.

Get a good night’s sleep.

You can also sign up for rewards with cool merchandise for regular donors.

What to do after donating?

Rest for five minutes, have a drink or a cup of tea. avoid exercise for about 12 hours.

Your body will recuperate and replace the donated blood.

Here are more handy tips about the blood donation experience.

Thank you for saving lives

Blood donation is a simple yet powerful way to save lives. Every drop you give can make a significant difference to someone in need. So, if you’re old enough and healthy, consider becoming a blood donor. You could be someone’s hero, just like James Harrison.

Find out if you’re eligible to give a blood donation

Gosford Donor Centre

Find a donation centre near you