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His rare blood has helped save millions of babies' lives. Meet 'the man with the golden arm.'

More than 60 years ago, his life was saved by the kindness of strangers. He's been returning the favor ever since.

They call him "the man with with golden arm," and he's saved the lives of more than 2 million babies.

Rhesus disease is a potentially deadly condition where a pregnant woman's blood attacks the blood cells of her fetus.

It's caused when a rhesus-negative (RhD negative) mother is carrying a rhesus-positive (RhD positive) fetus. Usually, these women are able to give birth to completely healthy children. But in certain cases, the mother may be sensitized to RhD positive blood, leading to the disease.


One man has been helping fight rhesus disease for more than 60 years.

His name is James Harrison, and he's a really tough guy.

No, not Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison. I'm sure he's plenty tough, but I'm talking about a different James Harrison.

This is the James Harrison I'm talking about:

Image from Ten News.

His blood carries rare, powerful antibodies that have helped doctors develop an injection to help fight rhesus.

And every week, Harrison heads down to donate more of his powerful, life-saving blood.


I don't know how much blood 60 years' worth of blood is, exactly, but I'm imagining something like this. GIF via "The Shining."

Roughly 17% of pregnant women in Australia are at risk of developing rhesus disease.

Medical experts have estimated that James Harrison has helped save more than 2 million babies from rhesus disease.

When he was 14, Harrison's life was saved in part by the blood of strangers, prompting his decision to donate himself.

He had a lung removed in 1951. He told CNN that a conversation with his dad helped him decide to pay it forward:

"When I came out of the operation, or a couple days after, my father was explaining what had happened. He said I had [received] 13 units (liters) of blood and my life had been saved by unknown people.

He was a donor himself, so I said when I'm old enough, I'll become a blood donor."
— James Harrison


Watch Harrison's interview with Ten News to learn more about his story and rhesus disease:

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Just a couple hundred years ago, in much of the United States, teaching African Americans to read and write was illegal. In the antebellum south, this was part of a strategy to maintain racist, unjust systems. There was good reason for white enslavers to see Black Americans' literacy as a threat. Inspirational abolitionist texts brought uprisings to the Caribbean, and deep biblical readings led Nat Turner to revolt in Virginia.

Slavery ended well over a century ago, so the slave codes that outlawed teaching African Americans to read should be relics of the past. However, as a woman of color and educator, I see that their spirit lives on today.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), fewer than one in five African-American 12th graders reach reading proficiency, and Black students fared far worse than all other racial and ethnic groups that NAEP tested. The percentage of white seniors "at or above proficiency" was nearly three times that of Black seniors. Despite the immensity of African-American teens' literacy crisis and its role in their oppression as adults, we're doing little to address it.


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