#9 – James Harrison

How not to donate blood


“I think I’ll take a bath in his blood…” – Mike Tyson

Think of blood and most will probably think of slasher flicks, the film There Will Be Blood, or some wannabe gangstas (people) on da street chattin (on the street chatting) wid dere homies (with their chums). For some, the thought of blood makes them faint and then faint, while others have an inexplicable obsession with it, along with pale angsty young men and idiotic diatribes of depressingly inane teen literature.

However, to some it can be a life saver. If you’ve ever been in hospital with a serious injury or illness, in all likelihood one of the main reasons you’re alive is that you’ve been a beneficiary of free blood.

I’ve tried donating blood before. The first time, it took the person doing it five attempts of skin piercing and wiggling to find a vein. When she finally did, I was so surprised to see she’d succeeded that I exclaimed “wow!” as I fainted backwards off the chair. The second time took two fewer attempts but far more wiggling.  Turns out I’ve inherited awful awful veins from my mother and as such I’ve decided for my own sake that blood donation is more hassle than it’s worth, lest the nurse decide that using a needle is futile and just brings out a saw.

Note: This is a different James Harrison. He's more likely to produce blood by knocking your head off with his own.

Luckily, there are many better people than I who donate regularly but perhaps none more so than a certain Australian called James Harrison. He’s your regular 75 year-old, probably going around collecting his pension, shouting at kids to get off his lawn, getting confused by modern technology and, most impressively, donating his blood over 1000 times in the past 57 years.

Better known in his home country as “The Man with the Golden Arm”, he holds the world record for blood donations, all due to receiving 13 pints of free blood after major chest surgery during a bout of pneumonia at the age of 14, and as such once the wonderful cocktail of pain numbing, mind altering drugs had settled, he vowed to contribute as much blood as he could. This in itself is laudable, but much like that annoying bearded guy at every party who tries to top every single story you tell, there’s more. His blood has saved 2.2 million lives due to him having a rare form of blood that has been used to develop an Anti-D vaccine to treat Rhesus disease in babies, including in his own daughter. That’s a lot of pressure on her to live a decent life; “What do you mean you’re dropping out of high school, do you know what your dad did for you!” – as a parent you pretty much have your own slave. In fact, I’m tempted to start giving blood again just to see if it could do the same for me.

But then my life isn’t insured to the tune off $1 million AUS dollars like Harrison’s was at one point, so that will never happen. My future children should breather a huge sigh of relief.


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