In The World—December 27, 2015

December 28, 2015 No Comments »
In The World—December 27, 2015

By Melissa Wuske

The Life-Saving Gift of Blood

Most people have never heard his name, but James Harrison has saved millions of lives. The Australian man has donated plasma nearly every week for 60 years—more than 1,000 times total. And his blood is special: it has a rare antibody that can combat rhesus disease. 

Before 1967, thousands of babies in Australia died each year because of the disease that causes a pregnant woman’s blood to attack the unborn baby’s blood. Once Harrison’s antibody was discovered, doctors worked with him to create an injection called Anti-D. According to the Australian Red Cross, Anti-D has saved more than 2 million babies. 

Harrison started on this path because his own life was saved by 13 units of donor blood when he had a surgery in 1951. Those transfusions likely caused the antibody that makes Harrison’s blood so valuable. 

“James is irreplaceable for us,” said Jemma Falkenmire of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. “I don’t think anyone will be able to do what he’s done, but certainly we do need people to step into his shoes. He will have to retire in the next couple years.”

New Mandates for NYPD Officers

In the wake of nationwide attention on police violence, the New York Police Department is implementing new guidelines for its 35,000 officers, including mandatory reporting of use of force. Officers’ reports will now include specific notations of force, used by and against the officer, including blows with baton, physical altercations, spraying mace, and physically bringing a person to the ground. The new guidelines also define levels of force and describe when it’s appropriate for an officer to have a gun drawn.

“Once you have the data,” said Chief Kevin P. Ward, “you can do a lot of things with it, analyzing it, as trends or individuals.”

“What we’re developing here could become the national template for how do you not only investigate all levels of use of force, but how do you report it in a way that it is transparent,” Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said.

The NYPD has had success with similar monitoring strategies in the past. In the 1970s, the department began tracking each time an officer shot a firearm. In the early 1970s the number had reached 1,000 one year, but last year the department reported only 79 incidents of officers firing guns.

Duchess Kate Visits Women’s Prison

The women at HMP Send, a prison in Surrey, England, got a surprising visitor: Duchess Kate of Cambridge. The prison houses nearly 300 women, and many of them are serving life sentences for murder. Mental illness and addiction are prevalent factors in the women’s lives. The duchess spent an hour and a half listening to women’s stories

“I was reminded today how addictions lie at the heart of so many social issues and how substance misuse can play such a destructive role in vulnerable people’s lives,” Kate said after the visit. “I saw again today that a failure to intervene early in life to tackle mental health problems and other challenges can have profound consequences for people throughout their lives.”

Extreme Weight Loss: Sheep Edition

A merino sheep named Chris recently earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. After being found with dangerously overgrown wool, a sheep shearer sheared 91 pounds of wool from Chris—the most ever recorded. “We can only hope that record is never broken again because it would be unlikely that the animal would live to tell the story,” said Tammy Ven Dange, the head of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in the Australian Capital Territory.

Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (

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