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.


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.


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.


Donor Recognition Ceremony

May 22nd, 2015

On Sunday, May 17th Unyts held our annual Donor Recognition Ceremony at UB’s Center for Tomorrow as a way to thank our donor families for their support, friendship, and generosity in giving the Gift of Life. The Donor Recognition Ceremony is an important event for the organization, and a special opportunity for donor families and friends to come together to remember and celebrate life.

At Unyts we remain committed to providing the Gift of Life through organ, eye, tissue and blood donation. It is stories like the one’s shared at the Ceremony that will have a continuing, positive impact on the donation rate.

Right now there are over 124,000 people awaiting a life-saving transplant, and sadly an average of 21 people die each day because the organ they were waiting for did not become available in time. The passion that our donor families have for furthering the Gift of Life is ultimately making all of our efforts at Unyts worthwhile, and for that they have our sincerest thanks.


Organ donation campaign a success

May 22nd, 2015

Thank You Clerk+Unyts (2)

Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs announced in May that the Auto Bureau’s year-long enrollment campaign has dramatically increased the number of registered organ donors in Western New York.

Citing a severe lack of donors across the state and in Erie County, the goal of the campaign was to increase the number of enrollees by 30 percent, or 22,000 registrants. The total topped that at 22,109.

The campaign was launched at the county’s Auto Bureaus in partnership with Unyts, who trained bureau staff to educate and encourage customers about registering as a donor.

Organ Donation Wrapup XI

In loving memory of Kallie Lynn Swan

May 12th, 2015

We at Unyts were saddened last week to hear of the passing of Kallie Swan, whose fight against acute lymphoblastic leukemia inspired so many. You may have seen Kallie’s smile and her story on Unyts posters, emails and other materials. Kallie and her parents visited Unyts’ Buffalo location in August to participate in a photo shoot and share the need for people to donate blood. Kallie charmed the Unyts staff with her sweet and joyful nature. She played with a stuffed puppy, told us about her real dog at home and cheerfully posed for our camera. Kallie was a funny, gentle and delightful little girl and we’re glad we had the chance to meet her.


Information about Kallie’s Krusade, a non-profit created to “Fight like a girl” against childhood and pediatric cancer, is online at www.kallieskrusade.org.



“While giving birth to a new life, I could offer a life-giving donation to someone else.”

May 6th, 2015

Amanda Punaro and her baby

When Amanda Punaro was pregnant with her second child, her doctor gave her a pamphlet about placenta donation. She didn’t give the pamphlet much thought at first, but she decided to take a better look at it when she and her doctor planned her C-section.

Amanda really liked the sound of donating her placenta once she learned more about it. “I immediately wanted to become a placenta donor,” she said. “There are no side-effects for me or my baby, so why not? I loved the idea that while giving birth to a new life, I could offer a life-giving donation to someone else.”

Everything went as planned until a few days before Amanda’s planned C-section when she started going into labor and had to be rushed to the hospital. Amanda was very nervous about the early birth and panicked when she realized that her plan to donate her placenta might not go through. “Call Unyts – they don’t know I’m having this baby today!” she told her husband. Fortunately, he got in touch with Unyts right away and a representative was able to get to the hospital in time.

After her daughter Cambree was born, Amanda enjoyed talking to the Unyts representative about how her placenta would be handled and what it might eventually be used for. “My placenta was a part of my body so I think it’s really interesting to know what would happen to it,” she explained. “I wish I could know what it was actually used for. I would love to know that it was really able to help someone.”

Today, Cambree is four years old and her mom wouldn’t hesitate to recommend placenta donation to other moms. “Unless you’re planning on doing something else with your placenta, go for it!” Amanda said. “It costs nothing to help someone else through donation.”


Soon-to-be moms can donate their post-natal tissues, including the placenta, during a planned Caesarian section delivery. The amniotic membrane, the innermost layer of the placenta, can be used to promote healing after eye and dental surgeries. For more information about placenta donation, please visit our website.

If you’d like to donate but your physician isn’t a participating member of the Unyts Placenta Donation program, please contact the Unyts Donor Referral Center at (716) 853-6667 ext. 5 to receive further information.

“If your life has been touched by organ or blood donation, and you have the ability to give back, why wouldn’t you?”

May 4th, 2015


Whether you once needed someone’s blood or you’re just a giving person, we want our blood donors to know how much they’re appreciated. That’s what “Share Your Story” is all about, and we’re highlighting a different donor, recipient or supporter each month.

Josette Saia

Josette Saia

When Josette Saia was 13, her mother received her first of two kidney transplants. Unfortunately, her body rejected the first kidney but the second lasted until her mother passed away ten years later. “It was great that my mom was no longer confined to dialysis three times a week, “ Josette said. Her mother’s experience inspired her to become an organ and blood donor.

“Before the organ donor registry existed, I always signed the back of my driver’s license,” Josette explained. “I also talked to my family so they would know what I wanted if something happened to me.”

Josette started donating blood at her church’s lawn fete one year. When she saw a mobile blood drive set up at the fete, she decided to donate on a whim. Ever since then, she has donated at the same lawn fete every year and at many other local blood drives. Over the past six months, Josette has also become a regular platelet donor the Southgate Neighborhood Donation Center.  Josette’s sister and niece are also regular donors.

“Donating blood is painless, doesn’t take any time at all, and helps so many people,” she said. “Lately I’ve been thinking about volunteering at blood drives, too. I think that if your life has been touched by organ or blood donation, and you have the ability to give back, why wouldn’t you? You never know when you or a member of your family may need a transfusion.”

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:


Honoring Our Heroes: Joseph Kammerer

May 1st, 2015

Joseph M. Kammerer became an eye and tissue donor upon his passing on October 21, 2007. Joe, 24, was a graduate of Pioneer High School and worked in construction. He loved life and enjoyed going to country concerts and camping with family and friends. A huge Buffalo sports fan, Joe was at a Buffalo Bills game on the day he died. 

His mother, Laura Brock, shared this remembrance:

Kammerer-waterI have delayed writing this story, because it is so difficult to write about my son who is no longer with me. But I go on everyday remembering all the good times.

Joe had a love for life. He enjoyed it to the fullest.

Joe enjoyed all the holidays. He worked at Kmart with me for a short time and I remember he volunteered to be the Easter Bunny, he was the tallest bunny ever!

He took pride at Christmas in picking out special gifts for me. Which I treasure.

I felt as Joe became older we became more like friends.

Kammerer-campingJoe loved to go camping and we had such fun together at Allegany.

Like I said in the beginning, Joe was full of life and everybody loved him. He never had a bad word to say about anyone, except maybe when one of his sports teams were not winning… LOL.

Joe loved the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres, he was one of Buffalos best sports fans!

I wish Joe could have met his 4 nephews and 2 nieces. He would have been a terrific uncle.

I am so proud to say Joe is my son, there is not an hour that passes in the day that he is not on my mind. He will forever be in my heart. Heaven gained a beautiful angel.

Until we meet again. I Love You, Joe.





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.


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.



Donate Life Month 2015

April 28th, 2015


Press Conference
Unyts and ECMC’s Regional Center of Excellence for Transplantation & Kidney Care launched Donate Life Month at a press conference on April 15th. New York State currently has the lowest donor registry rate in the United States, and it is vital that ECMC and Unyts continue to collaborate and concentrate on increasing the community’s knowledge and understanding about the need for donation and transplantation. At the event we heard from Phyllis Murawski, Transplant Administrator at ECMC; Reverend Garney Davis, Pastoral Care at ECMC; Richard Cleland, CEO at ECMC; Mark Simon, CEO at Unyts; Dr. Mareena Zachariah, Transplant Medical Director at ECMC; John and Diana Schmidt, living kidney donor and kidney transplant recipient; Tiffany Alexander-Childs, mother of a transplant recipient.



Donate Life Memorial Garden Planting
We had a great turnout for our annual Donate Life Garden Planting on April 18th. Donor families, recipients, volunteers and staff planted shrubs and flowers in honor of those who have given the gift of life. The sun was shining on Delaware Park as Unyts supporters enjoyed the beautiful Saturday morning!


WNY Goes Blue & Green
Various landmarks across WNY showed their support for Donate Life Month throughout April by illuminating blue & green.
Peace Bridge
GM Powertrain
Buffalo Niagara Convention Center
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
One Canaldside
Central Terminal
The Electric Tower



Donate Life Month Proclamation
Governor Andrew Cuomo proclaimed April as Donate Life Month across New York State.

On April 23rd the Governor’s Regional Representative for WNY, Adam Sassone, visited Unyts to present the organization with the proclamation. The document highlights the need for organ donors in the state and the importance of enrolling on the Donate Life Registry.

Unyts spearheaded this initiative out of Governor Cuomo’s office for Donate Life Month in the hopes of bringing attention to the public health crisis that surrounds donation and transplantation.



Bucket List Bash
What a night! Over 600 people came out to celebrate life at the 4th annual Bucket List Bash at Statler City. Whether you wanted to win big in Vegas, become a Buffalo Bill, Sabre or Bandit, or get a tattoo, you had the chance to do that at the Bash-and much, much more!

The event raised money for Unyts so that we can continue to share the important message of organ, eye, tissue and community blood donation. Thanks to our Presenting Sponsor One Buffalo and all other sponsors and attendees for making the event a huge success!



See more photos on our Facebook Page!

If you attended the Bucket List Bash this year, we would love your feedback! Take our event survey now.

Picture Yourself on the BNMC
On Saturday, April 25th Unyts participated in an exciting event with the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Over 500 students and their parents attended this event to learn about careers and internship opportunities in clinical care, research, education and entrepreneurship in the hospitals, research institutes, and other organizations on the Medical Campus. Unyts had an organ, eye, tissue and blood station where attendees were able to view video of a cornea transplant, look at various tissue and bone samples, observe a kidney on a kidney pump, and learn how blood is drawn and collected.

bnmceventSee more photos on our Facebook page! 


“It’s so easy to do and it can really make a difference for other people.”

April 27th, 2015

Valerie Sperduti and her baby

When Valerie Sperduti was pregnant with her most recent child, her OBGYN gave her a pamphlet about Unyts’ placenta donation program. Valerie said she thought it was a pretty cool idea and immediately wanted to learn more about it.

“Once I got more information and saw how this easy, selfless act could help others, I knew I wanted to donate my placenta,” she said. “It was super easy to set everything up for the procedure. All I had to do was fill out a quick questionnaire and the hard part was over. My doctor performed the C-section and Unyts took care of the donation. I didn’t have to do anything else.”

After Valerie’s baby boy Desmond was delivered, she received a sleep sack and hat from Unyts volunteers. Valerie said, “it was a really nice surprise and really showed that Unyts cares about its donor moms.” Desmond is now three months old.

“I absolutely recommend placenta donation to other moms,” said Valerie. “I tell all the pregnant women I meet about it. I was even telling everyone about it in the maternity wing after Desmond was born. It’s so easy to do and it can really make a difference for other people. I felt really good knowing that I was able to help someone by donating my placenta.”
Soon-to-be moms can donate their post-natal tissues, including the placenta, during a planned Caesarian section delivery. The amniotic membrane, the innermost layer of the placenta, can be used to promote healing after eye and dental surgeries. For more information about placenta donation, please visit our website.

If you’d like to donate but your physician isn’t a participating member of the Unyts Placenta Donation program, please contact the Unyts Donor Referral Center at (716) 853-6667 ext. 5 to receive further information.