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Unknown Blood Donors Save a Man, Then He Saves 2.5 Million Babies

unknown blood

Unknown Blood Donors Save a Man, Then He Saves 2.5 Million Babies

After turning 14 back in 1950, James Harrison required major chest surgery to save his life. Then He Saves 2.5 Million Babies Doctors had to remove a lung from the young teenager, and during the process, they needed almost two gallons of donor blood to keep Harrison alive. The fact that his life was spared due to the generosity of others is quite an inspiring story.

Beautifully, that’s not where the story ends. The surgery taught James just how important it is to donate blood. Even at that young age, he resolved to start donating as soon as he was old enough. When that day came, however, doctors noticed something special. In fact, it was something so unique that it ended up saving the lives of 2.5 million babies.

James Harrison Learns Generosity First Hand

It’s estimated that a single blood donation can save up to three lives. Some people need larger transfusions than others, though, and this was certainly the case for James Harrison. The disease that endangered his life led to surgery that required a massive amount of blood. Just a few years later — two days after turning 18 — he began his journey to “pay it forward.”

At some point, doctors realized his blood contained something special. It had a rare antibody known as Rh (D) immune globulin. When pregnant women with Rh-negative blood become pregnant with Rh-positive babies, the mother’s immune system will treat the fetal cells as if they are a foreign substance. This frequently leads to a deadly disease.

The Rh (D) immune globulin from Harrison’s blood stops this process. This made his donations invaluable for fetal care. Knowing this, he didn’t hesitate to keep giving. In fact, he made 1,173 donations over more than 60 years — at which point he became too old to legally donate. During the time he could give, however, doctors estimate he saved the lives of 2.5 million babies.

“The Man With the Golden Arm”

golden arm

We always hear that it’s better to give than to receive. In some situations, though, giving warrants an award. Saving 2.5 million lives certainly sounds like it would qualify, but James Harrison never asked for such recognition. Even when the media dubbed him “The Man With the Golden Arm,” he remained grounded and modest.

In fact, a previous statement from Harrison shows just how altruistic he really is:

“Some people say, ‘Oh, you’re a hero, but I’m in a safe room, donating blood. They give me a cup of coffee and something to nibble on. And then I just go on my way. No problem, no hardship.”

Some of the most uplifting Bible verses speak to the importance of remaining humble. If nothing else, “The Man With the Golden Arm” has managed to do that. His affect on the world, however, is beyond measure. For instance, 14 percent of America’s population works in the medical field. What’s 14 percent of the 2.5 million babies Harrison saved? It’s 350,000.

Similarly, about 0.0001 percent of the U.S. population are pastors. This may not seem like much, but out of 2.5 million people? That’s 250 pastors — and just imagine how many people those pastors can lead to Jesus. Truthfully, the impact of James Harrison’s blood donations is simply immeasurable — both on this earth and in the next.

But That’s Not Where It Started

It’s good to see when giving results in a positive outcome for those who are generous. For Harrison, he gained little more than the respect of the world and an impressive nickname. It’s important to remember, though, that he was not at the epicenter of giving. It all started when he underwent surgery and received a blood transfusion back in the 1950s.

Had doctors not had access to the nearly two gallons of blood Harrison needed, his life may have tragically come to an end decades ago. Those who donated blood back then — when a lack of technology made it far more valuable — ensured that James would live on. They didn’t know it at the time, but their donations would one day change the world.

Those individuals may never receive the recognition they deserve, but their generosity will live on through millions of lives. The lesson of the Widow’s Mite teaches us that the smallest of gifts can be the most valuable. And because some folks decided to give the gift of life to James Harrison, “The Man With the Golden Arm” will carry on in countless lives now and in the future.

How DonorWerx Can Help

Many people feel like their good deeds go unnoticed, but this is far from the truth. We may never know the names of those who donated the blood that saved James Harrison’s life. What we do know, however, is that their selfless donations ended up saving millions. Good things come to those who are generous, and DonorWerx can help you remind your congregation of this fact.

The DonorWerx framework provides ministries with many different ways to accept contributions, but it also includes the necessary messaging to increase generosity. With the help of our giving specialists, you can increase donations to your church in just a short time. Click here to Get started today, and learn how DonorWerx can help your ministry succeed in the coming years.

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