Good Blood

A doctor, a donor, and the incredible breakthrough that saved millions of babies

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A remarkable, uplifting story about one of the greatest medical breakthroughs of the 20th century

In 1951 in Sydney, Australia, a fourteen-year-old boy named James Harrison was near death when he received a transfusion of blood that saved his life. A few years later, and half a world away, a shy young doctor at Columbia University realized he was more comfortable in the lab than in the examination room. Neither could have imagined how their paths would cross, or how they would change the world.

In Good Blood, bestselling writer Julian Guthrie tells the gripping tale of the race to cure a horrible blood disease known as Rh disease that stalked families and caused a mother’s immune system to attack her own unborn child. The story is anchored by two very different men on two continents: Dr. John Gorman in New York, who would land on a brilliant yet contrarian idea, and an unassuming Australian whose almost magical blood—and his unyielding devotion to donating it—would save millions of lives.

Good Blood takes us from Australia to America, from research laboratories to hospitals, and even into Sing Sing prison, where experimental blood trials were held. It is a tale of discovery and invention, the progress and pitfalls of medicine, and the everyday heroics that fundamentally changed the health of women and babies.


Brian Keating
Chancellor's Distinguished Professor of physics, UC San Diego, author of Losing the Nobel Prize

"In Good Blood, Julian Guthrie weaves a lyrical web of science, selflessness, and soul that gives hope for a united humanity. Truly a story to be savored."

Dr. Jay A. Levy, M.D.
Professor of Medicine, UC-San Francisco, one of the first medical researchers to identify the HIV virus that caused AIDS

"In a true tour de force, Julian Guthrie spans decades of intensive research amid celebrated discoveries that highlight the final successful treatment of Rh disease. One has the pleasure of reading notable accomplishments by famous physicians /scientists from Australia, England, the United States and elsewhere. These are heroes throughout the history of this blood disorder with final attention to one man credited with saving millions of lives. Good Blood matches important historic events happening contemporaneously with this major medical achievement that continues to save lives throughout the world."

Publishers Weekly

"An inspiring and heartwarming story of a medical breakthrough. Guthrie vividly captures the determination and commitment of her two main subjects."

Kirkus Reviews

"A readable pop-history account of medical research that turned out spectacularly."