Feature: A gift of life -- Aussie man makes over 460 blood donations to help people in need

2021-06-14 03:05:21 GMT2021-06-14 11:05:21(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

SYDNEY, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Forty-year-old Daniel Alexander is a civil engineer living in Newcastle, a harbour city in Australia's state of New South Wales (NSW). He is one of Australia's half a million active blood donors who have saved numerous lives with their selfless gift of life.

As the World Blood Donor Day is marked on Monday, Alexander hoped more and more people could join them and make a difference for those who are in need.

Alexander made his first blood donation when he was 16 with his parents' encouragement who were also blood donors.

James Harrison, known as "the Man with the Golden Arm" who has made more than 1,170 donations over 60 years with his last blood donation in 2018, is another inspiration for Alexander. As a pioneer of the Anti-D program, Harrison's blood helped save the lives of 2.4 million babies.

"I've read stories about previous donors who were in the program as well as recipients and some of the stories about how the resistance affects little babies, and that was a big inspiration for me to sign up for the program," Alexander told Xinhua.

Anti-D immunoglobin is an injection that is made up of the plasma from special blood donors. These injections prevent Rh(D) negative women from developing potentially harmful antibodies during pregnancy with an Rh(D) positive baby. Without it, their next Rh(D) positive baby could suffer from Haemolytic Disease of the Fetus and Newborn (HDFN), which can be fatal.

According to the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, around 17 percent of Australian women in pregnancy need Anti-D injections. All of Australia's anti-D plasma comes from a tiny pool of around 200 donors, who have a special type of antibody (a protein made by their immune system) in their blood. Alexander is one of them.

He jointed the Anti-D program in September 2011. Every fortnight, he would donate 800 ml plasma, and every 6 months, he needs to travel from Newcastle to Sydney to receive a boost, which helps stimulate the production of the antibody within his blood.

The boost day is always like a battle as he and his wife have to drive back and forth around 400 km and return to New Castle before 2:30 p.m. to pick up their kids.

When injuries or holidays hinder Alexander from making regular donations, he will reschedule the appointments or visit an alternative donor centre. He doest not stop donation even under the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past over 20 years, he has made more than 460 blood donations.

"I've been fortunate enough to be healthy, and so I've just been able to continue donating. There hasn't been any real reason to stop," Alexander said.

With the help of the Anti-D treatment, the number of Australian children who die from the HDFN has fallen over a hundred-fold to approximately 0.01 deaths per 1,000 - about four babies a year in all of Australia, a Sydney Morning Herald report said in 2017.

Alexander's younger sister also received the Anti-D treatment, which helped her have healthy children.

"It's good to know that you're making a difference and contributing to people having healthy children," he said.

Last year, Alexander received an unexpected small ceremony from local donation center to mark his 450 donations, which made him feel warm and encouraged.

"I plan on continuing as long as I'm healthy." he said.

"It doesn't matter if you've done one donation or 400 donations, every donation can help." Enditem