Ashton is thriving, thanks to donors like you!

July 2nd, 2015

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Ashton Smith

In 2010 Alisa and Marion Smith’s son Ashton became very I’ll at just 6 weeks old. While he was in the hospital on life support Ashton received platelets and whole blood to help keep him alive. Today Ashton is 5 ½ years old and thriving, thanks to the many people who donated blood.

Alisa and Marion are regular Unyts blood donors now so that they can help give back to other patients in need. “We donate to help give others a fighting chance, in honor of Ashton and our other son Preston” Alisa said.

The Smith’s typically donate at either Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo or one of Unyts’ Neighborhood Donation Centers. They want anyone who is thinking about donating blood to know that the feeling you get from giving the Gift of life to someone else is overwhelming. Donating blood saves lives, and it could be a family member who needs it next. There’s no greater feeling.

 

 

 

Make your next donation appointment to save lives now. Here are our community blood donation centers.

If you have been touched by the Gift of Life through blood donation, or donate for a reason you feel passionate about, we’d love for you to:
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Honoring Our Heroes: Jacqueline Dotzler

July 1st, 2015

Jacqueline Dotzler became an organ, eye and tissue donor upon her passing on April 24, 2014. 

Her sister, Justine Fedchak, shared this remembrance:

DotzlerJacqui was a beautiful person inside and out. She was loved by so many people and would do anything for anyone. Jacqui was a waitress in Batavia and was very into art and tattoos. She loved cats and treated hers as her babies.

I want people to know what a kind heart my sister had. She was such a loving and caring person and had such kind soul. I remember times that she would come stay over for weeks just because I was going through a hard time and we could have movie nights and just talk and laugh.

I honor my sister in so many ways. Since she was hit by a car and killed tragically, it came very suddenly and happened very quickly. We have a memorial site for her that is built with cats and stones all around it as well as birds and butterflies. She also will have a memorial up on the one-year mark of her passing in the area where she was killed.

She will forever hold a place in my heart and my step-father’s heart.

Each month, Unyts pays tribute to organ, eye and tissue donors. It seemed fitting to call this feature “Honoring our Heroes” as these donors are heroes to their families and to the people who have received transplants.

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If you would like to nominate a loved one who gave the gift of life, please click the button above. Unyts will contact you when your loved one is chosen for the Hero of the Month.

Celebrating 8 years as WNY’s ONLY community blood bank

June 22nd, 2015

July marks Unyts’ 8 year anniversary as WNY’s only community blood bank. While other blood collection agencies are closing donation centers across the region, Unyts wants the community to know that we are here to stay. Unyts is committed to making it easy for blood donors to give for local patients in need at local hospitals.

Since 2007 Unyts has become the primary supplier of blood products for Kaleida Health, ECMC and all hospitals in Niagara and Wyoming Counties. It is our responsibility to answer the call for blood at our local hospitals, and ensure that we are providing an adequate supply for patients in need. Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, and over 41,000 donations are required each day to meet this need. The very young, from the tiniest of preemies in a hospital’s neonatal unit, to an elderly patient suffering from a blood disorder, all benefit from blood’s life-sustaining qualities.

sawyer k 3Sawyer Kenerson from Tonawanda is someone who requires blood products on a regular basis, and he depends on Unyts to make sure Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo has the blood he needs. Six year old Sawyer suffers from a Primary Immune Deficiency disorder called CVID. This disorder is very rare, affecting only 1 in every 50,000 to 75,000 people.  Every 4 weeks Sawyer receives a transfusion at the hospital from donated blood products. Without this life saving treatment he would live with constant infections and illness.

“Due to his immune deficiency disorder Sawyer’s life depends on the generosity of strangers donating blood. If there are shortages his health quickly declines. His needs are life long, and this is the only treatment available.” Amy Kenerson, Sawyer’s mom says.

Unyts needs continued help from the community to ensure that those in need, just like Sawyer, are helped through blood donation. Blood drives are conveniently organized across Erie, Niagara and Wyoming Counties 7 days a week in addition to regular hours at four Neighborhood Blood Donation Centers. When you donate with Unyts you can be assured that your blood is staying local for local patients in need. The organization has grown dramatically over the last eight years and will continue to do so as we remain committed to saving and enhancing lives across WNY.

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5th Annual Andrew’s Army Blood Drive and Basket Raffle

June 19th, 2015

IMAG1515Prior to his death on Nov. 2, 2010, at the age of 21, Andrew Gramza was a registered blood and organ donor with Unyts.  At ECMC in the trauma unit he received excellent care and numerous blood transfusions.  This tragic event instilled the idea in the Gramza family that some how they must pay it back in Andrew’s memory.  “Andrew’s Army” was created and they just hosted their 5th Annual Blood Drive and Basket Raffle on June 13th at Alden High School.  The Gramza family along with their friends, family and community raised over $13,000 and collected over 100 pints of blood to help save 300 lives in WNY!

Their mission is to make many people become aware of organ donation and blood donation.  Andrew’s mother, Lori Gramza has said “Many people have donated blood for the first time in Andrew’s name.  People have become registered organ donors in his memory.  The positive emotion that comes from watching others become heroes in Andrew’s memory is overwhelming.  Unyts/Alden High School’s Donate Life Club/Andrew’s Army sustains us and gives us a positive focus.”

To date, through the non-stop efforts of Andrew’s Army they have raised almost $100,000 for Unyts and have collected almost 1,600 pints of blood in Andrew’s name!

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Off Field Challenge

June 19th, 2015

Football is about more than just touchdowns and tackles. To be a leader on the field, you must also be a leader in your community. The Off Field Challenge is a campaign by Unyts, the Buffalo Bills and ADPRO Sports to increase blood donations during the summer months, a time when donations usually lag. High school football teams from around the area are taking the challenge, hosting drives and working to spur as many donations as possible. In addition to knowing that they are helping local patients in local hospitals, the teams will also benefit by receiving prizes and recognition for their efforts.

 

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“I saved three lives, and that was the best birthday present ever.”

June 4th, 2015

MaddyZmuda_1Maddy Zmuda wanted to become a blood donor since she was only 12 years old, but she had to wait four long years until she was eligible. When her 16th birthday finally arrived, she went to Unyts’ Southgate Neighborhood Blood Donation Center to give her first blood donation. This was much more important than getting her driver’s permit.
“I truly believe that there is no better present than to give a present,” Maddy explained. “I saved three lives, and that was the best birthday present ever. It was a great experience, and the nurses were awesome, too!”
She first learned about blood donation in elementary school. “I had two teachers, Mr. Schreiner and Mr. Rodemeyer, whose wives had needed blood transfusions. Both of my teachers gave blood and told their students all about it,” Maddy explained. “I knew that blood donation helped a lot of people, so I knew I wanted to start donating when I turned 16.”
Making a difference in her community is very important to Maddy. She plans to become a regular blood donor and she wants to register as an organ donor, too. She talks to her friends and classmates about blood donation through school and social media because she wants them to know that it’s an easy way to help others.

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“Giving blood doesn’t hurt, it only takes a few minutes, and the best part is that the blood stays local,” she said. “The next time I donate, one of my friends is coming with me to donate for the first time. I’m counting down the 56 days until I can donate again!”

 

It’s easy to become an organ, tissue or blood donor! Click here to find out how to become an organ and tissue donor, and click here for a list of our community blood donation centers.

If you have been touched by the Gift of Life through blood donation, or donate for a reason you feel passionate about, we’d love for you to:

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Congratulations!

June 4th, 2015

Congratulations to Donor for Life member Sharon Wasielewski – she is the winner of our Game Day Bisons Suite Raffle in May! Thanks for supporting Unyts and saving lives!

Donor for Life members have another chance to win this month:

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Honoring Our Heroes: Kyle Platt

June 1st, 2015

Kyle Platt became a tissue donor upon his passing on October 13, 2011. Kyle, 21, was a Cheektowaga resident. He was an alumnus of St. Mary’s High School and was a senior at Medaille College at the time of his death.

His mother, Bonnie Platt, shared this remembrance:

Platt banditsKyle Patrick Presby Platt entered this world on Father’s Day, June 17, 1990. He arrived 9 days past his due date, weighing 9 lbs. 9 oz. His mom was one of 9 siblings, as were both maternal grandparents, whose house number happened to be 99. Thus, Kyle chose to wear #9 on his high school lacrosse jersey.

Platt Number 9Reflecting on the all-too-brief life of my son, I focus on his strengths and most admirable character traits. COMPASSION is the first that comes to mind. As a young toddler just learning to put words together, I was surprised the first time I heard him express his dismay when he heard a baby crying quite loudly. It was as if he was urging me to find and offer some comfort to calm the squalling child. As he grew, his sense of compassion broadened to include injured animals, struggling students, the homeless, victims of disasters, and those battling serious illness. He chose to study psychology and criminal justice in college. It was his hope to eventually work with victims of abuse crimes. After his grandfather was moved to live in a rehab facility, Kyle would often take his lunch and visit him between school and work. His grandfather misses him most at lunch time.

Kyle and his sister Molly celebrate their June birthdays. Their cousin Cam joined the photo.

Kyle and his sister Molly celebrate their June birthdays. Their cousin Cam joined the photo.

Kyle was INTELLIGENT and not just book-smart. He made the dean’s list every semester he attended Medaille College, carrying a 3.95 GPA, winning the President’s Award. Words and language were second nature to him, excelling in Spanish in high school. He worked as a prep cook at Forestview restaurant. Imagine having to oversee two employees who spoke no English! Being patient, calm, clever and even humorous, he succeeded and gained their trust and respect.

Kyle and Nani, his maternal grandmother.  She was a big fan of his, attending his  sports games from youth  soccer through high school football and lacrosse. She enrolled Kyle and his sister Molly in a year of Tae Kwon Do and drove them to the lessons.  As a young man, he returned the favor and would stop by to visit with her,  and return her cans and bottles to the store.

Kyle and Nani, his maternal grandmother. She was a big fan of his, attending his sports games from youth
soccer through high school football and lacrosse. She enrolled Kyle and his sister Molly in a year of Tae Kwon Do and drove them to the lessons. As a young man, he returned the favor and would stop by to visit with her,
and return her cans and bottles to the store.

Kyle’s intellect was fueled by his intense sense of WONDER. By age two he knew more about dinosaurs than most adults, and could rattle off their names and facts with accuracy and confidence. Among my fondest memories are the two occasions we stayed overnight at the Buffalo Museum of Science. We slept next to the skull of the ancient triceratops! Our family of four would frequent the nature trails of Stiglmeier Park all year round. He was intrigued by the birds and deer who would feed from our hands, before that was outlawed!

Kyle loved visiting libraries and bookstores, even on vacation! He was not necessarily an avid reader, but relished gleaning random facts from the non-fiction genre. Because of this, he was a challenging player when it came to playing games based on trivia, logic and vocabulary.

Kyle’s closest friends will agree that he possessed a unique WIT and clever sense of HUMOR. As a very young child he was greatly amused by a simple Whoopee Cushion … his grandparents found that hilarious. As he matured, Kyle loved pulling pranks and confounding people with his practical jokes. I love to listen to his friends relate these stories.

Kyle sits poolside on his 21st birthday with his cousins Martha, Sydney, sister Molly, Lindsey and Bob.

Kyle sits poolside on his 21st birthday with his cousins Martha, Sydney, sister Molly, Lindsey and Bob.

Kyle was happiest when he had the chance to fish. This was an interest first introduce by his dad and uncle Don, on summer visits to Central New York. During his senior year, he had the opportunity to help the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) stock fish in creeks and ponds in Western New York, which he found fascinating. On occasion, he and his buddy Tim would take out a canoe to fish locally. After Kyle’s dad passed, he found solace in fishing.

These are Kyle's best friends from St. Mary's High School in Lancaster. They played football and lacrosse together. After they graduated, they had a tradition of meeting at the high school every Thanksgiving morning for a game of tackle football, which they continue to do, no matter the weather. The Platts' dog Sherman, front row, has taken Kyle's place on special teams. These guys continue to stay in touch with Kyle's mom, especially for the holidays and her and Kyle's birthdays.

These are Kyle’s best friends from St. Mary’s High School in Lancaster. They played football and lacrosse together. After they graduated, they had a tradition of meeting at the high school every Thanksgiving morning for a game of tackle football, which they continue to do, no matter the weather. The Platts’ dog Sherman, front row, has taken Kyle’s place on special teams. These guys continue to stay in touch with Kyle’s mom, especially for the holidays and her and Kyle’s birthdays.

Lastly, Kyle was HUMBLE. He would be uncomfortable knowing that he is being honored today as HERO. He shunned any type of attention, preferring to hang in the background. Thus it was not surprising when he was chosen as the Unsung Hero during his high school senior football season. It wasn’t about scoring touchdowns.

He was a TEAM PLAYER in life. His dad, Cliff, who was a career police officer, had serious cancer surgery, but planned to return to work. Kyle opted to be his dad’s ‘personal trainer’ and worked out with his dad in the police gym instead of the football team, so that Cliff could return to road patrol. On Cliff’s first night back on patrol, Kyle rode along with him as a student intern, just to make sure that his dad was strong enough to be back on the job.

Kyle lived life as a Christian. He was kind and caring in word and deed. He said his daily prayers on his knees. He grew to appreciate the ‘little things’ in life and took the time to sincerely say THANK YOU. When his loving, gentle spirit left this world on October 13, 2011 it was MY turn to say THANK YOU for the gift of Kyle. When Unyts called at 1:30 a.m., my first reaction was, “Why are they calling at this hour?” but my question was its own answer… the need was IMMEDIATE. As difficult as it was to rationalize at that hour, I said yes with the condition that, at some point in time, I wanted to learn of and maybe hear from, the people who benefited from the GIFT OF KYLE. I pray that his spirit and light continue to shine in them.

Blessings to all who fulfill the mission of Unyts.

Kyle and his dad, Cliff.  Kyle received Medaille's President's Award for achieving Dean's List every semester.  His dad was so proud of him. Unfortunately, Cliff passed one month later.

Kyle and his dad, Cliff. Kyle received Medaille’s President’s Award for achieving Dean’s List
every semester. His dad was so proud of him. Unfortunately, Cliff passed one month later.

Each month, Unyts pays tribute to organ, eye and tissue donors. It seemed fitting to call this feature “Honoring our Heroes” as these donors are heroes to their families and to the people who have received transplants.

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If you would like to nominate a loved one who gave the gift of life, please click the button above. Unyts will contact you when your loved one is chosen for the Hero of the Month.

Unyts & Roswell Park Contribute to the GTEx Research Project

May 24th, 2015

Unyts & Roswell Park Cancer Institute are being recognized nationally as contributors to the Genotype-Tissue Expression Project (GTEx). Launched by the National Institutes of Health in 2010, the aim of the GTEx project is to increase our understanding of how changes in our genes contribute to common human diseases, in order to improve health care for future generations. The project is in the scale-up phase of donor collection and tissue analysis, towards an end goal of 900 donors and around 20,000 tissue samples.

In May, an article was published in the elite publication Science Magazine about the results from a pilot analysis of GTEx, in which both Roswell Park and Unyts were cited.

To learn more about how Roswell Park and Unyts have contributed to this multi-institutional collaboration, please visit https://youtu.be/kOWDYZSEuvc

Unyts and Ali’s Rally Foundation award scholarships

May 22nd, 2015

Unyts has announced that 12 high school seniors will receive college scholarships in recognition of their commitment to the Donate Life mission. Two students will also receive book scholarships from the Ali’s Rally Foundation, which supports Unyts’ educational programs to raise awareness of the need for organ, eye, tissue, and blood donation.

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The purpose of the Unyts scholarship is to recognize those students who have gone above and beyond the call to action for their Donate Life Club, Unyts, and their community. Students were asked to write a one page essay about how Unyts impacted their lives and how they will continue to spread our mission.

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Winners of the $1,000 scholarship -
Haley Ruffner of Allegany-Limestone
Brandon Kane-Wantuck of Bishop Timon-St. Jude

Winners of the $500 scholarship-
Leann Balcerzak of Lyndonville
Nick Bucello of St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute
Elaine Dersam of Alden
Molly Ferris of East Aurora
Kathryn Lukasiewicz of Immaculata Academy
Kathleen Marzano of Clarence
Emily Mule of Hamburg
Kirsten Nice of Lyndonville
Kylie Pleakis of Allegany-Limestone
Alexe Wodowski of West Seneca East

The Ali’s Rally Foundation will present $250 book scholarships to Adreanna May Flint of Warsaw Central and Jacob Sorrentino of West Seneca West.

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