Local church doing its part for National Donor Sabbath



Graphic courtesy of Gift of Life

Graphic courtesy of Gift of Life

FLINT TWP. — Having experienced the miracle of organ donation firsthand, parishioners at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 2474 S. Ballenger Hwy. wanted to do something this year in honor of National Donor Sabbath.

So, the church, with the help of Gift of Life, created a video for its congregation where living organ donors and donor recipients could tell their stories and talk about the importance of organ donation.

Deb Gustafson of Davison, a member of the church, received a kidney from a fellow parishioner at the church.

On almost constant dialysis, both of her kidneys removed due to disease, it was a donation that literally saved Gustafson’s life.

Gustafson and Shalonda Griffin, the Gift of Life community relations coordinator for Genesee County, tossed around some ideas for a Donor Sabbath recognition and from that came up with the idea of a video.

“We were talking about what we could do for Donor Sabbath and we came up with this,” said Griffin. “We’d been talking since January and wanted to do something with local people talking about their stories – both recipients and donors.”

National Donor Sabbath is observed annually two weekends before Thanksgiving, from Friday through Sunday. This year it will start tomorrow, Nov. 13, and will run through Sunday, Nov. 15.

This three-day observance seeks to include the days of worship for major religions practiced in the United States.

During National Donor Sabbath, faith leaders from many religions, donor families, transplant recipients, and donation and transplantation professionals participate in services and programs to educate the public about the need for the lifesaving and healing gifts passed to others through transplantation, while also encouraging people to register their decision to be organ, eye and tissue donors.

Griffin said many people who are considering being donors or who require organ transplants will often seek the approval of their church leaders before opting to have surgery.

“This video is something they can share with the congregation, so they understand more about it,” she said. “Every major religion has given its approval for organ donation.”

The video includes short interviews with several local people affected by organ donation, including Gustafson and her donor, Bonnie Pobocik. Other contributors include Alena Christian and Gary Gould, both liver recipients; Armond Baskin, who is awaiting a kidney transplant; and Lynette Bailey, who is a living kidney donor.

The Unitarian Universalist Church will stream the video after the 10:30 a.m. service on Nov. 15 at www.uuflint.org.