An Australian blood donor is being commemorated as a hero for donating blood more than a thousand times over the past several decades, saving millions of babies in the process.
Saving lives, however, is just one of the benefits of donating blood. There are several more reasons on why people should regularly participate in the activity.
Donating Blood Saves Lives
James Harrison, who is currently 81 years old, recently donated blood for the last time, after giving up to 800 ml of blood once a week. Harrison donated blood more than 1,100 times over the past 60 years, helping save the lives of 2.4 million babies, according to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.
Harrison had a "golden arm" because his blood contained unusual antibodies that were capable of fighting the Rhesus D hemolytic disease. The disease is a condition where the molecules in the blood of a pregnant woman may lead to hearing impairments, blindness, or brain damage in her baby, or worse, death.
The disease may be treated with anti-D immunoglobulin, which removes the Rhesus D blood cells in the fetus. Since Harrison started donating blood in 1967, every anti-D immunoglobulin ever made in Australia contains a piece of him.
More Blood Donor Benefits
Is it good to donate blood, even when your blood does not have special antibodies like Harrison? The answer is still a resounding yes.
According to the National Blood Transfusion Service, donating blood improves the health of your heart and reduces the chance of heart attacks by 88 percent. In addition, after donating blood, your body immediately starts the process of replenishing it, stimulating the production of new blood cells to keep your body healthy and working more efficiently. Donating about 450 ml of blood also burns 650 calories, and regular blood donation is linked to lower cancer risk.
The Rasmussen College provided additional benefits to donating blood, including the potential to reveal health problems that you may not be aware of, as a mini-physical is administered before proceeding with the donation. Regular donation also gets rid of any extra iron stores in your blood, as too much iron is harmful to the human body. Lastly, in addition to lowering the risks of suffering a heart attack and developing cancer, donating blood also keeps your liver healthy by eliminating the aforementioned extra iron.
Of course, saving the lives of the people who receive your blood is the most important benefit of all.