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Raising awareness about giving the gift of life

Upstate New York Transplant Services & ECC team
WBFO News photo by Marian Hetherly
Upstate New York Transplant Services & ECC team

In this season of giving, Erie Community College is partnering with Upstate New York Transplant Services to spread awareness about giving the gift of life.  

Officials gathered in the picturesque atrium of ECC's City Campus to announce what UNYTS CEO Mark Simon called a historic new partnership.

"It's the first time an organization or a university has really said, 'You know what? We're going to step up. We are going to make a commitment to Upstate New York Transplant Services and to Western New York and we're going to put in on paper," said Simon.

UNYTS has partnered with ECC on blood drives for several years and will now collaborate on educational and community service efforts as well. Those are the reasons student Vicki-Lynne Wieshaupt decided to train as a dental hygienist at ECC.

"My aunt was diagnosed with hepatitis-C, and through their discovery of how she got it, she found out that she had gotten it from a local dentist in her area. This was back in the '70s. So, I decided to do dental hygiene to know that I can make a difference to someone else, that they would not have that same disaster happen in their life," said Wieshaupt.

An average of 18 people die each day waiting for an organ to become available. For each person who donates blood to UNYTS during December, a pound of food will be donated to the Food Bank of Western New York.