Helping is in his blood

Shot in the arm: Henry Ross is one of 200 Australins who have saved two million babies lives since 1968 with their rare blood type. His final donation was last week. "It makes it all worthwhile," he said. Picture: Simon Bennett

Shot in the arm: Henry Ross is one of 200 Australins who have saved two million babies lives since 1968 with their rare blood type. His final donation was last week. "It makes it all worthwhile," he said. Picture: Simon Bennett

Henry Ross has rolled up his sleeves for the last time.

After saving hundreds of babies’ lives, age has forced the Dundas resident to stop donating blood.

He was part of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service’s Rh program of special donors.

Since 1968, his rare type of blood plasma has been used to make lifesaving injections to mothers whose blood is at risk of attacking and killing their unborn babies.

Before the scheme began, 17 per cent of pregnant women were at risk of losing their unborn child to haemolytic disease.

Parramatta Donor Centre staff surprised Mr Ross with a retirement morning tea at his 368th donation last Friday.

“I honestly don’t think I’ve done anything special,” he told the Sun.

“I’ve been going for many years as it was the right thing to do. I wanted to give something back to the community, which gives me a great deal of satisfaction.”

Workmates convinced him to make his first donation in 1963.

“A few years later, the blood bank started up a scheme for pregnant women whose babies have a different blood type,” Mr Ross said.

“I had several young kids at the time, which gave me a lot of joy and wanted other parents to experience it.”

He had a 25 year break until the 1999 Glenbrook train disaster prompted him to roll up the sleeves back up and has donated blood religiously at the Parramatta Donor Centre ever since.

Unlike most blood donors who can only donate every three months, Mr Ross’ rare blood type means he could donate more frequently.

Mr Ross has seen the process time slashed from 90 minutes to half an hour.

“The technology has changed but it’s still the same old needle and skill involved,” he said.

Despite his excellent health, Mr Ross can no longer donate blood after he turned 81 on Tuesday.

“I’m disappointed that I had to stop and wish I could have gone on,” he said.

“I may come back to work here as a volunteer driver.”

He encouraged others to donate blood.

“There are no risks and has no adverse affects,” he said.

“When you help others, it makes you feel better and the community in general will be healthier. Helping others is part of our nature.”

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