Invisible Threads by ConnectLife

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Invisible threads are the strongest ties.” What connects us can’t always be seen, but we can uncover those invisible threads through meaningful conversations. In this bi-weekly podcast, our hosts and guests will set the record straight on common organ, eye, tissue, and blood myths and misconceptions and tackle hard to talk about topics that will lead to a better understanding of donation.

If you’re like most Western New Yorkers, you’re always looking for ways to give back to your community. Our hosts break down 4 ways to give back through ConnectLife.

  1. Give Life
  2. Give Time
  3. Give Blood
  4. Give Support

Every episode we honor a local hero, this episode's hero is organ, eye, and tissue donor, Tony Papp.

November is Eye Donation Month! Did you know that one cornea donor can give the gift of sight to two people? Our hosts talk to Dave Carlson, a two-time cornea recipient, and Mary Pfeiffer, Director of Eye and Tissue Services, about ConnectLife's work as an eye bank.

We honor a local organ, eye, and tissue donor hero, Hannah Kinkaid.

On episode 12, our hosts talk with guests Wendy M. Guyker, Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor at UB’s Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology and Lea Sobieraski, liver transplant recipient, about how to cope with feeling of grief, guilt, anxiety, and depression.

If you or someone you love is struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. Look for a counselor in your area or reach out to someone in your life that you trust. Also see below for resources suggested by both Lea and Wendy.

Podcasts for morning meditation:


  • Insight Timer: An app for sleep, anxiety and stress.
  • Motivation: You set how many positive motivations you want sent to your phone and during what times. You also get to choose what type of motivation you want. Free trial then a small fee*
  • Action for Happiness: You receive simple, daily action ideas to help you boost your own well-being and spread more happiness to others. 

Books & Tools:

  • Yogis in Science a local non-profit that Wendy is involved with – she's provided a link to free weekly yoga classes (currently on Zoom).
  • Mindfulness and Yoga for Self-regulation: A Primer for Mental Health a book written by Wendy's colleague, Dr. Catherine Cook-Cottone, on yoga and mindfulness for self-regulation.
  • The Five-Minute Journal: The journal requires only five minutes of thought each morning and night. You begin each day with setting intentions and asking yourself what would make today great end then circle back at night to discuss the days positive moments and how you can improve for tomorrow.
  • Mindful Self-Care: free survey that Wendy and her colleague developed with results and resources automatically e-mailed to you.

Did you know there are 113,000 people across the United States waiting for an organ transplant? 10% of those waiting are right here in New York State.

On episode 11, our hosts talk with two guests - Aisha M. Tator, Executive Director at Donate Life New York State and Kevin Gramlich Senior Vice President of Organ, Eye & Tissue Services at ConnectLife. We discuss how we work together to honor the "yes" to organ donation in New York State.

We honor the life and legacy of Randy Mott, father, husband, and organ donor.

On episode 10, you will hear the amazing story behind Team Fleetwood. Debbie, Emily, Mark, and Scott Fleetwood are our guests. We talk about the family’s journey through organ donation and transplantation, and how they are continuing that legacy of giving through blood donation.


Every episode we honor a hero, this episode we honor Scott’s anonymous organ donor.

On episode nine, we talk myths and misconceptions. If you heard it on a TV show or as an off-handed comment, it’s probably wrong. That’s why we are here to clear the air and tell you the truth about donation. Have you heard a myth you want us to discuss? Send it in to Your myth might just get featured in our next episode.

Every episode we honor a local hero. This episode, we honor tissue donors, John and Rita McGrath.

On episode eight, our hosts walk you through what it's like to donate blood at a ConnectLife blood drive. We recorded this episode at New Era Field at our annual Buffalo Bills blood drive. We talk to Sue Roney, a member of ConnectLife staff, four blood donors, and Ashley Meganck, Director of Corporate Sales at Pegula Sports & Entertainment.

Every episode we honor a local hero, this episode's hero is blood donor, Kaitlyn Morris. Listen for our answer to our FIRST question submission from an Invisible Threads listener!

Episode seven of Invisible Threads is dedicated to our heroes. Get to know the 13 heroes featured in our Virtual Walk to ConnectLife's Virtual Memorial Garden. We share their stories, and you'll hear from their loved ones, in their own words.

View the Virtual Memorial Garden here:

On episode six of Invisible Threads, our hosts speak with guests Kevin Gramlich, Senior Vice President of Organ, Eye & Tissue at ConnectLife and Wayne R. Waz, MD, Chief, Division of Nephrology and Medical Director, Kidney Center at Oishei Children’s Hospital. We talk about how world events of the past and the COVID-19 pandemic today have affected donation and transplantation locally in Western New York and across the country.

Each episode we honor our heroes. This episode’s hero is organ donor, Marques Anthony Barker

On episode five of Invisible Threads, our hosts discuss community blood donation. We talk with guests, Rosanne Schaller, blood recipient mom and blood donor, Frauke Stoffel, blood drive sponsor, and Amanda Farrell, Director of Blood Recruitment Services at ConnectLife.

We discuss the constant need for blood donors in our community and blood donation in the times of COVID-19 and social distancing. Each episode we honor our heroes, this episode’s hero is blood donor, Sue O’Hara.

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