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Grateful family wants to pay it forward

Conditions are looking good for 2-year-old Zach Chamness of Cabot – Zach has been fighting a brain tumor that threatened his future. While there remains much to endure, Zach’s parents Steve and Jill Chamness said Monday they are grateful for the progress they have seen, and want people to know that their help has made a difference.

Everyone who gives blood has had a part in Zach’s treatments, the Chamnesses said, emphasizing a blood drive to be held May 31 at Cabot United Methodist Church

Zach’s most recent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) shows no remnants of the tumor, and that is because of because of 42 blood transfusions and 48 platelet infusions he has been given, Jill Chamness said.

“We can’t begin to tell how much we appreciate everyone who has taken time to donate blood. Without those blood products Zach would not have made it,” she said.

Zach was diagnosed with desmoplastic nodular medulloblastoma in November 2013.

The Chamnesses said their goal now is to get the word out about how important it is to donate blood. “We have seen so many kids come [to ACH] like Zach, so many need the same blood products. Especially the rare types, like AB negative,” she said.

To honor Zach, Cabot United Methodist Church is sponsoring a blood drive through the American Red Cross; the blood drive will be on May 31. Her friends Amy Goddard and Tara Finney organized the blood drive through the UMC Women’s circle, Chamness said.

The Chamnesses are members of the church.

“We want to make sure that others have the same opportunity, the same chance that Zach has been given. We are so grateful,” she said.

“So, if we can help in any way to get more blood to these children and adults who need it, then we’re going to do that in any way we can. You don’t think about how much blood one person can need, especially dealing with cancer, until you’ve been in these shoes,” Chamness said.

Zach’s fight began in November 2013. Jill Chamness, a pediatric physical therapist at Easter Seals, said. The first sign was complaints of his head hurting. When initial treatments did not appear to be effective and his gait began to change they returned to the doctor with a request for an MRI.

The primary care physician reported that a mass was found on the right side of Zach’s brain, and treatments began immediately; ACH has been “wonderful” with care for Zach, Chamness said.

Though Zach has progressed well, it is not over yet, Steve Chamness said. “There is a long way to go, but we are still very lucky. Very blessed,” Steve Chamness said.

Although Zach is now hospitalized at Arkansas Children’s Hospital with pneumonia likely a result of his immune system being weakened by chemotherapy, they still feel blessed to be at this point and they want to begin returning the blessing they have received, Jill Chamness said.

Give blood May 31 in honor of Zach Chamness, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Cabot United Methodist Church - Family Life Center, 2003 Pine St., Cabot.

Or call 800-733-2767 or visit redcrossblood.org for more information or to make an appointment.

Individuals must be 17 years old, or 16 with parental consent, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health to donate blood; donors younger than 18 also must meet height and weight requirements.

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