'Man With the Golden Arm' Retires From Donating Blood After Saving More Than 2 Million Babies

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service
The Australian Red Cross Blood Service

One of the most prolific blood donors in the world has completed his final blood drive. Nicknamed "The Man With the Golden Arm," James Harrison of Australia has given blood more than 1100 times in the last 60 years, Mashable reports.

He said he would have kept donating, too, had it not been for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service's rule that donors can only give blood up until their 81st birthday.

Harrison's blood carries a rare antibody that has helped save the babies of more than 2 million Australian women. The antibody is used to create a medication called Anti-D, which helps fight rhesus disease, a condition in which antibodies in a pregnant woman's blood attack her unborn baby's blood cells. Prior to 1967, when the Anti-D program was rolled out in Australia, many babies died from the disease. Harrison just happened to be the first Anti-D donor in the country.

After undergoing chest surgery at age 14, Harrison pledged to thank his anonymous blood donors by paying it forward. He has also donated plasma, which is similar to the process of donating blood, except the plasma is separated out and the blood is returned to the donor's body.

In recognition of his service, Harrison received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1999 and was also added to the Guinness Book of World Records in 2003 for having donated the most blood. However, according to online records, this record has since been broken—a show of dedication that Harrison no doubt approves of.

[h/t Mashable]

A Custom Wheelchair Allowed This Brain-Injured Baby Raccoon to Walk Again

фотограф/iStock via Getty Images
фотограф/iStock via Getty Images

Animal prosthetics and wheelchairs allow dogs, cats, and even zoo animals with limited mobility to walk again, but wild animals with disabilities aren't usually as lucky. Vittles, a baby raccoon rescued in Arkansas, is the rare example of an animal that was severely injured in its natural habitat getting a second shot at life.

As Tribune Media Wire reports, Vittles came to wildlife rehab specialist Susan Curtis, who works closely with raccoons for the state of Arkansas, with a traumatic brain injury at just 8 weeks old. The cause of the trauma wasn't clear, but it was obvious that the raccoon wouldn't be able to survive on her own if returned to the wild.

Curtis partnered with the pet mobility gear company Walkin' Pets to get Vittles back on her feet. They built her a tiny custom wheelchair to give her balance and support as she learned to get around on her own. The video below shows Vittles using her legs and navigating spaces with help from the chair and guidance from her caretaker.

Vittles will likely never recover fully, but now that she's able to exercise her leg muscles, her chance at one day moving around independently is greater than it would have been otherwise. She now lives with her caretaker Susan and a 10-year old raccoon with cerebral palsy named Beetlejuice. After she's rehabilitated, the plan is to one day make her part of Arkansas's educational wildlife program.

[h/t Tribune Media Wire]

Why You Should Never Shower With Your Contact Lenses In

belchonock/iStock via Getty Images
belchonock/iStock via Getty Images

Contact lenses offer a level of convenience for those with less-than-perfect vision that glasses can hardly compete with, but that doesn’t mean the daily struggle of taking them in and out of your eyes doesn’t wear on you. If you get a little lazy and decide it’s fine to leave them in your eyes during showers or pool parties, think again.

According to Popular Science, a 41-year-old woman in the UK lost sight in her left eye as a result of frequently showering and swimming without removing her contacts. The culprit was Acanthamoeba polyphaga, a protozoa that crawled into her eye and caused a cornea infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis. After two months of pain, blurry vision, and light sensitivity, the woman sought medical attention at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, where doctors discovered a ring shape in her left eye and a hazy layer covering her cornea. Upon testing her vision, they found that her left eye was now 20/200, which counts as legally blind in the United States.

Leela Raju, an ophthalmologist and cornea specialist at New York University, told Popular Science that the single-celled organisms “can be anywhere,” including pools, hot tubs, showers, dirty saline solution containers, and even tap water. Lens-wearers make up around 85 percent of those who get infected, and experts think it may be because the amoeba can latch onto a contact lens more easily than a bare eye.

Though Popular Science reports that Acanthamoeba keratitis only affects one or two people out of every million contact wearers each year, that’s no reason not to be careful. If you do catch it, you’ll likely need a cornea transplant, and even that won’t necessarily restore your eyesight to its previous state—after her transplant, the UK woman’s left eye now has 20/80 vision.

“It’s just a long road, for something that’s totally preventable,” Raju says. In addition to removing your contacts before swimming, showering, or sleeping, you should also refrain from reusing saline solution, make sure your contact case is completely clean and dry before filling it with more solution, and check out these other tips.

[h/t Popular Science]

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