Baby Saver

Reporter: Sally Obermeder

James Harrison is now 76 and he's single handly saved an estimated 2.4 million babies.

"Every donation is helping somebody - some person out there is getting what i produce and they're having healthy babies." Said James Harrison

His blood is truly worth bottling. It contains a life saving anti body

"The Anti D that is in James' blood is very uncommon. There are probably only 200 people in Australia who have it." Said Dr John

"I had a lung removed through bronichiatis which is a lung disease and i received 13 units of blood." Said James

He was only 14 at the time, but vowed to give back the lifesaving gift he had received.

"As a throw away line at 14 years of age i said "i'll be a blood donor when i turn 18 dad."

He lived up to his promise, but it was a decade later when the rare anti d antibodies were discovered in his blood. It's this anti d that's saving millions of unborn lives. Dr john Darcy explains ...

"If a mother has a blood type that is -ve and has a baby that is +ve she may regard that baby as a foreign thing. Antibodies from her blood will flow through the placenta to the cells of the baby and destroy the baby's blood cells. She could miscarry or if the baby was born it could have haemolytic anaemia whereby all its blood cells would be slowly but surely destroyed. The beauty of James blood is that it can vacuum out the mothers blood and get rid of the nasty antibodies she's got and protect the blood of the new baby." Said Dr John Darcy

About 17% of all pregnant women in Australia will need anti-d. James has only met a few of the 2 million babies he's saved, but one is very close to home

"My own daughter had to get an injection of what i produce she had the injection and did away with the nasty anti-bodies so that it didn't affect the second pregnancy - so my second grandson, Scott, was born without any problems at all. It would have been my most special donation." Said James

After 58 years, James still gives blood every 10 days and he's ensuring the tradition is passed on

And if there's one thing that spurs him on, it's the memory of his wife, who passed away 8 years ago

"My wife also had the Anti D in the system so we were an Anti D duo attending Sydney and donating together - but unfortunately she died and is no longer with us." Said James

Simon Mcmillan and wife April have James to thank for their 7 month old son, Juda

"I can't imagine my life without Juda, without being able to have more children - and just not having that choice i would feel a bit helpless i guess so we're really grateful for that anti-d product that people like James donate and allow us to have more children." Said Simon

"I know that years ago before that product was found many women lost children just because they didn't know what was causing their babies to die. So, we're very blessed to have it." Said April

"Shortly after April received her donation we were introduced to him and it quite an experience being there and meeting the man who made such a big difference to our family - it's kind of like meeting an everyday hero. He was very humble." Said Simon

"You seem like a reluctant hero?" Asked Reporter

"oh for sure. i don't go out looking for notoriety. The idea is to try and promote the need for blood and to attract those people out there who've been thinking about it. 20 mins of your time could be a lifetime for at least 3 other people. Get out there roll up your sleeve and put your arm out - it won't hurt ya." Said James

To find out about becoming a Anti-D donor, speak to one of Australian Red Cross coordinators:

NSW/ACT

20 Elizabeth Street, SYDNEY, NSW 2000

Tel: (02) 9235 6813 or (02) 9235 6822

WA/NT

290 Wellington Street, PERTH, WA 6000

Tel: (08) 9421 2364

SA

301 Pirie Street, ADELAIDE, SA 5000

Tel: (08) 8112 1358

QLD

288 Edward Street, BRISBANE, QLD 4000

Tel: (07) 3309 4925

VIC/TAS

51-65 Clarke Street, SOUTHBANK, VIC 3006

Tel: (03) 8866 2016

Australian Red Cross Blood Service - www.donateblood.com.au