Born To Do This

June 21, 2011 at 8:00 am

By Geoff Belanger, Donor Services Document & Project Manager


I’ve worked at the Blood Center for a little over seven years now in a variety of roles, beginning as a phlebotomist. If you’ve donated on a mobile between 2004 and 2008, there is a good chance I drew your blood, some more than a few times.

Every so often we, as employees, are asked why we stay here. For me, the answer is simple. I understand first-hand the importance of the work we do because blood collected at Stanford saved my life. I was born with a congenital blood disorder called Diamond Blackfan syndrome. What that means is my bone marrow would not produce red blood cells. These symptoms manifested immediately after I was born and I had to be transfused at just a few months old. We were living in the Philippines at the time. My family took me back to the U.S. where I was diagnosed at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital by Dr. Bert Glader, who still works there. I was prescribed prednisone, which triggered red blood cell production until I reached puberty. At that point no medication would work and I became transfusion dependent. I was transfused with two units of packed red cells, each month at LPCH for a little under a year. All the blood I received was collected at SBC when we were still located at 800 Welch Road. Before the first transfusion at LPCH my hemoglobin count was 7.0 g/dL. Remember, the minimum to donate blood is 12.5 g/dL. Getting two units with an hgb count of 7.0 makes you feel like a million bucks.

This experience has ignited a deep passion for the work I do here. This passion has allowed me to succeed in all my roles here, working on blood drives, training new nurses and phlebotomists, and now writing standard operating procedures.

I’ve put my whole self into the blood center, but the donors are what made it possible, since they are literally a part of me.

I’m not the only one who feels connected to the Blood Center because of my experience. My mother, Susan, is a charge nurse on the mobile blood drives and she has the same passion I do. If you’ve met her before, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Good news is that I’ve been in remission for over 10 years. No more blood transfusions or medication. My hemoglobin count stays right around 14.0 and if I want it checked I can just go down the hall and have my finger poked.