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Geyer Springs First Baptist Church hosts Red Cross blood drive to honor blood donor diagnosed with cancer

Greater Ozarks-Arkansas

March 13, 2014
 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  — Life can be unpredictable. Geyer Springs First Baptist Church is hoping to honor one of their members who is facing a life-altering challenge after helping change so many lives in his community. The church is hosting a blood drive in his honor at the end of the month.

Tom Forner has donated 10 gallons of blood to the American Red Cross. As a cytomegalovirus (CMV) negative donor, Forner has often been called on to donate a lifesaving pint of blood on short notice.

CMV negative blood is often used to help infants and young children. The virus, which typically causes mild cold-like symptoms in adults, can be fatal for a child or those with a weakened immune system.

“Tom started donating years ago when a coworker’s son was in an accident,” said Teresa Forner, Tom’s wife. “Once he found out he had the rare CMV-negative blood, he would give every time the Red Cross called. And they needed him frequently.”

But in January, Tom Forner found out he wouldn’t be able to answer the call any longer. After suffering pains on his right side for days, he visited the hospital assuming he had strained a muscle or was coming down with the flu. Doctors couldn’t find any sign of trauma to his side, but they did find a spot on his lung.

“They diagnosed him with lung cancer. It’s a fast-moving form, and it had already spread to his brain. The treatments he’s receiving give us more time, but the cancer is incurable,” Teresa Forner said. “With our faith, though, we’re facing this with the hope we beat it. In the midst of all of that, Tom was devastated he wouldn’t be able to donate blood any longer.”

Tom Forner has been receiving weekly chemotherapy treatments from CARTI at Baptist Health Center and daily radiation treatments from CARTI at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Because of his dedication to the Red Cross, Teresa Forner reached out to their church to see about hosting a surprise blood drive in his honor.

“I thought the least we could do was see about a blood drive to maybe find more donors who could fill that gap and donate in honor of Tom,” she said. “He still wants to be involved and help the Red Cross.”

“Tom is a longtime blood donor, but during his chemotherapy treatment he is not able to give,” said Geyer Springs First Baptist Church’s executive staff in its church bulletin. “And he very well may need blood during his treatment. So, we hope to help by giving blood, like he has helped for so many years.”

Give blood in honor of Tom Forner:

March 30 from noon to 6 p.m. at Geyer Springs First Baptist Church, 12400 Interstate 30 in Little Rock, Ark.

March is Red Cross Month, a time when the Red Cross celebrates everyday heroes, including those who organize blood drives and give lifesaving donations. Someone doesn’t need a cape to be a superhero. They need only to roll up a sleeve and be willing to give an hour of their time.

“So many of us look for ways to make a difference,” said Scott Caswell, CEO of the Greater Ozarks-Arkansas Blood Services Region. “Donating blood is a way to volunteer and give back to those who truly need it. In this case, it’s also an opportunity to honor the giving spirit of Tom Forner, who has spent so much time giving to others.”

Blood can be used to treat accident victims, those undergoing chemotherapy, premature babies, patients with blood disorders and organ transplant recipients. On an average day, someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds, and one blood donation can help save three lives.

How to donate blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in Arkansas), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.