How Helen Inspired a New Donor

My name is Brandon Forgey. I am Helen Forgey's father. I would love to share my story with you and anyone who is on the fence about donating blood.

Helen and Brandon Forgey

I am a 31 year old male who for the most part has had a very healthy life. We have three children, a 15 year old son, an 8 year old son, and a 9 year old daughter. On December 11th, 2013 our world was turned upside down. During a routine doctor visit, our doctor told us that something wasn't quite right with Helen's lab results and we were immediately referred to a pediatric hematologist. After many tests were performed, my wife and I were called into a small room followed by a few doctors, a counselor, and a child life specialist. We knew that this could not be good. We were asked to take a seat at a very small table while the doctor and child life specialist sat directly across from us. Then came a moment that would forever change our lives. The doctor looked at us and said, "There is no easy way to tell you this, but your daughter has cancer. She has Leukemia and we have contacted St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, already. They have an ambulance on its way to pick her up, but she needs blood now." This would be the first of many blood and platelets transfusions that she would need in order to survive and live to fight the cancer that is living in her blood and spinal fluid.

Shortly after arriving at St. Jude, Helen started receiving much needed platelets and later that day more blood. None of this would have been possible without all the generous people that have taken time out of their valuable day and faced fears to donate these life-saving units of blood, platelets, and plasma that our daughter so desperately needed. We are forever grateful to them.

After finding time to reflect on all of the events surrounding her diagnosis and beginning of treatment, I made a decision that I will never regret. I decided to give blood. Fortunately, as I was picking up our 8 year old son from school there was a LifeShare bus allowing high school students, teachers, and faculty to donate blood. As I walked by the bus, there was a sign asking donors to tell the staff on the bus if they would like to donate blood in honor of Helen Forgey. Now, I have had a severe phobia of needles that dates back to as far as i can remember and I can not say that it has gotten any better with age, but I said to myself, "what better time to start donating blood then in honor of my daughter." As I entered the LifeShare bus I took a look around to see all of the students on the bus that were donating blood and thought to myself, "If they can do it, surely I can do it." After introducing myself to the ladies on the bus and stating that I have never donated blood before, they swiftly took me in and helped me get started on my journey to giving back to the community a life-saving product that was so graciously donated to our daughter.

As I sat there on the bus waiting my turn, students and teachers, one by one, walked by me and offered me words of encouragement and stated that they had donated in Helen's name. This brought tears to my eyes to see how loved our daughter is and how wonderful the community that we live in is. As it was my turn to sit in the reclining chair, the ladies on the bus understood my fears and were so helpful, reassuring me that everything would be just fine. You know what, they were right. There was no pain. I greatly enjoyed the conversations with the ladies and others on the bus as it helped remind me just why I was in this chair. For everyone that maybe on the fence about donating or everyone that walks by a bus and thinks that they just don't have the time right now to donate, please stop and think about the life that your blood product could go to save. It could be your own child's life, your parents' lives, or even your own. So please don't walk by another bus without thinking about who's life you could possibly be saving.

So many thanks to Mrs. Brittney Meadows, Mrs. Crystal Allen, Mrs. Elain Mathews, Mrs. Andrea Groshong, and LifeShare Blood Centers for helping save people's lives!