February 10, 2015
Fourteen years ago, Customs and Border Protection officer Dawn Caltagirone was expecting her fourth child. It was a difficult pregnancy, and at 28 weeks she had to be rushed to the hospital with complications. Her baby had separated and she needed an emergency C-section.
Dawn suffered so much internal damage during the surgery that she bled out and her doctor lost her blood pressure. Thankfully, further surgery and a transfusion of eight units of blood brought Dawn back.
Meanwhile, Dawn’s newborn daughter Grace was taken to Women and Children’s Hospital. She was three months premature and only weighed 2 lbs, 7 ounces. She was struggling to hold on, too. Grace eventually needed a transfusion of one unit of blood to save her life; Dawn says they were lucky to find a donor with a matching AB- blood type. Dawn’s tiny daughter stayed at the hospital for another four months, and today she is a healthy 14-year-old.
“If it wasn’t for the people who donated blood, both of our lives would have been lost,” says Dawn. After she and Grace survived their harrowing experience, it became very important for Dawn to give back and donate her own blood. She made the decision to donate through Unyts because all of our blood stays local, and a Unyts donor may have helped save her or her daughter’s life.
Dawn takes all of her children to the Unyts blood drives at Customs and Border Protection to educate them about the importance of donating blood.
When asked what she would say to the people who donated the blood that saved her and Grace’s lives, Dawn said, “ Thank you so much. The minutes you put into donating really make a true difference. My kids still have a mother because you donated blood.”
For more information about becoming a blood donor and a list of our Neighborhood Blood Donation Centers, please visit this page.
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.
Official partner of the Buffalo Bills
110 Broadway, Buffalo, NY 14203