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Community-Driven Nurse Gives Back Through Blood Donation

For many working in healthcare, creating healthier communities is their job. For Betty “B.J.” Belding, a perioperative (OR) nurse, it’s her passion – one she’s continually developed through several decades of blood donations.

“If someone’s going to have surgery on their brain, or heart, or come in with a traumatic injury, we have to be able to give them blood,” said B.J., “People get in car accidents, crazy things happen…and, at times, the only way to save them is to give them blood products.”

This nurse knows the power of a blood donation firsthand – she had transfusions during heart surgery at the age of 9. So when she wasn’t able to give herself because of health issues, she got others to give blood.

For several years, she was the Donor Chair Person (DCP) for Cascade Christian Church in Grand Rapids, helping to host blood drives with Michigan Blood five times a year. The role meant a little bit of extra work, but a lot of help for her neighbors.

“It was my way to give back,” she said, “I’m interested in having healthier communities, so that was a way to help my community.”

Another way B.J. helps to create a healthier community is through her job at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. She started working there less than a week after the facility opened in 2011, and sees kids who need blood on a regular basis.

“I remember a trauma patient a couple years ago, and he needed [blood] constantly,” she recalled, “A nurse was putting [blood bags] up while another organized. And he survived.”

B.J. said that the need for blood in operating rooms has gone down through the years, thanks to upgrades in technology and procedures. However, she said that doesn’t negate the need that’s always there.

“It’s so important. It’s vital in so many ways to save a life,” she said, later adding, “We always have a shortage in July!”

B.J. is right – because of vacations and holidays, there are fewer blood donations. Help your community by hosting a blood drive, or donating at one in your area: donate.miblood.org