ECHO-banner.jpgWestern New Yorkers from diverse ethnic, religious and cultural groups are joining Unyts as part of Donate Life ECHO, a new national initiative to spur conversations regarding organ, eye and tissue donation. ECHO, which stands for “Every Community Has Opportunity,” has two objectives: to focus on the power of sharing one’s personal decision to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor with members of one’s community; and to encourage registered donors to ask members of their personal networks and extended communities to register as donors.

RevCarter_ECHOletter-231x300.jpg“Twenty-two people die each day waiting for organs and one of my goals in life is to see that number drop,” said The Rev. Jeffrey Carter Jr., pastor of Ephesus Ministries in Buffalo. Carter is a living kidney donor, and his daughter Rebekah became a donor upon her passing. He added, “ I invite other people, especially in the minority community, to be involved in the Donate Life movement, by signing up to become part of the registry to donate, by volunteering and by giving.”

In Spanish, the observance will be known as Done Vida ECO, for “Esperanza, Comunidad y Oportunidad,” which translates to “hope, community and opportunity.” The two-week observance will be held each year during the second and third full weeks in July. This year’s inaugural observance will be held July 12 – July 25.

revpointer_ECHOletter-235x300.jpg"In my own circle, I know of nine people who have received transplants,” said The Rev. Kinzer Pointer, pastor of Agape Fellowship Baptist Church. “My family is a donor family; when my father-in-law died, we chose to donate his corneas and tissue. There is a real need in cultural communities like ours to increase the level of donations.”

Through the ECHO concept of reiteration and repetition—with people sharing the life-affirming message of donation within their community—more lives will be saved and healed.

“My brother’s decision to donate his kidney saved my life. We share our story to raise awareness of kidney disease and the need for donors,” said Timothy “Tom” Thompson of the Seneca Kidney support group.

thompsonbros_ECHOletter-231x300.jpgMinorities comprise approximately 64 percent of those on the organ transplant waiting list in New York State. Members of minority communities are disproportionately affected by illnesses like hypertension and diabetes which can lead to end-stage renal disease and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. Increasing the number of registered donors is a key step toward saving and enhancing the lives of individuals of all backgrounds.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, successful transplantation often is enhanced by the matching of organs between members of the same ethnic and racial group.

Unyts is asking Western New Yorkers of all ethnic, religious and cultural groups to join in Donate Life ECHO. Between July 12 – July 25, we ask that you take time to share messages about the importance of donation with your friends, co-workers, community members and personal networks.

Unyts will be sharing images and stories at www.unyts.org and through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Click on any of the images in this post for a printable flier. You can share prepared messages or you can create your own. You can talk about why donation is important to you as an individual, or why it is important to you as a member of an ethnic, religious or cultural group to which you belong. If you share a message through social media, please include the hashtags #Unyts and #DonateLifeECHO.