April 02, 2014
After being an RN for more than a quarter century, blood and I have developed a professional and respectful relationship. Currently, I work as a pediatric dialysis RN. Children with acute kidney injury or end stage kidney disease can and do receive blood products donated from our local community through the work of Unyts.
But it is my beloved husband that made me truly feel, to the core of my being, the importance of blood donation. Two summers ago Mike was starting to feel fatigued and short of breath. As Mike continued to work as a technical coordinator at Moog, his health continued to deteriorate as well. Several doctors were working to find the cause of his problem. We even celebrated a wedding anniversary at Niagara on the Lake in October although his color was off and he had not even enough stamina to walk more than a block. Finally, that week on a follow up visit with the cardiac Nurse Practitioner, a chest x-ray and more blood work were ordered. The chest x-ray obtained that evening did not give us an answer. The next morning he went for the blood test and was so exhausted, he went home to bed. That afternoon I received a call while at work, Mike needed to get to an emergency department as soon as possible as he was critically anemic with Hemoglobin of 5.3. The normal level for a man his age would be 13-15. The last time it was checked his level was above 14. The staff type and cross-matched his blood and a series of six life saving transfusions were started. Mike was diagnosed with an abdominal mass that ended up to be adenocarcinoma stage 3 of the colon. Had he tried to go on one more day, he could have collapsed and died. I had never watched someone so closed to me be transfused with blood. He received 6 units of blood and other additional blood products such as fresh frozen plasma and platelets. This period of time in our lives were stressful beyond words. Two days after Mike’s initial surgery I posted on my Facebook page the following:
“I have drawn it, missed drawing it, hydrated it, dialyzed it, evaluated it, checked it, called for it, called doctors about it, even cleaned it up, but have I never valued blood more than when someone I loved needed 2 quarts of it (6 units x 350 ml.) Thanking every anonymous person who selflessly took the time and effort to donate for someone they will probably never meet. Many thanks and blessings to all donors.”
Unyts blood and platelet donors are heroes beyond measure. They use their own time and effort to save the lives of anonymous people; people they may not share anything in common with except the correct blood type. There are not adequate words to express my gratitude, so a simple "thank you" will have to do. YOU saved Mike’s life. As of today, he has no evidence of cancer and is expected to do very well. My heroes finish their super hero duties with juice and cookies.
Headquartered in downtown Buffalo and established in 1981.
Unyts is among the leading procurement organizations in the United States, and is one of the only eight centers nationwide to house organ, tissue and eye procurement in one location. With the addition of Community Blood Service, Unyts has become the first organization of its kind nationwide. Unyts operates as a non-profit serving the eight counties of Western New York and works to assist donor families, coordinate the donation process and increase knowledge and awareness within the community regarding transplantation.
Unyts routinely has helped to secure higher rates of donation in Western New York than the national average. When approached following the death of a loved-one for organ donation, Western New York families are very generous. In 2014 the Unyts conversion rate was 81.5%– the national average was 63.2%. Due to these numbers, Unyts is ranked as one of the top procurement organizations nationwide. As recently as 1997, Unyts had just 200 donors; in 2014 the organization surpassed 1,200.
The organization’s network and success have gone hand-in-hand, and as a result, Unyts has been able to spread the message that transplantation is vital – and transplantation saves lives. Unyts is currently headed by President & CEO Mark Simon, and Chair of the Board of Directors David Carlson.
*As of January 1, 2012, Unyts operates under, d/b/a Unyts, WNY’s only Organ, Eye, Tissue and Community Blood Center. We are no longer Upstate NY Transplant Services.
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110 Broadway, Buffalo, NY 14203