Writing to Your Loved One’s Transplant Recipients
The decision to write to your loved one’s recipient(s) is a very personal and powerful experience. Donor families sometimes choose to write to transplant recipients to share information about themselves and their loved one. For some families, sharing with their loved one’s transplant recipient(s) helps them in their grief journey. We encourage you to write if and when it feels right for you.
Things to keep in mind:
- Please know that there are differences in writing to organ, eye and tissue recipients, detailed in the following sections.
- All correspondence is completely anonymous and identities are kept confidential to protect the personal privacy of both families.
Letter Writing FAQs
Organ or Eye Recipients
If your loved one was an organ and/or eye donor, you do not need to wait until you hear from the recipient(s) before you write. You may make the initial contact and write whenever you feel ready. A letter from your family may encourage a recipient to write, knowing that your family is ready and willing to receive correspondence. You may send a greeting card, letter or photos.
If your loved one was a tissue donor, the process for writing to recipients is unique. Unlike organ and eye donation, where recipients are identified during or shortly after donation, tissue may not be transplanted for up to five years. Because of this timeline and the manner in which tissue is transplanted, the recipient needs to initiate contact. If your loved one’s tissue recipient writes and provides their address to our tissue partner, your family may then respond accordingly. In other words, it is not possible for your family to send correspondence to a tissue recipient until they reach out to you. Please be assured, your loved one’s generosity will always be remembered by those whose lives are restored.
Share anything that feels right to you. Recipients appreciate learning about who your loved one was, how they lived their life and what made them special. Donor families sometimes choose to share information about themselves.
Share general information:
- Your loved one’s name (please include first name only)
- Your loved one’s hobbies or interests
- Favorite story or memory of your loved one
- Photos of your family and/or loved one
- How your loved one’s donation has impacted your life
- If sharing your faith, please consider that the recipient may have different spiritual beliefs.
Closing your letter:
- Sign your first name only
- Do not reveal your address, city, telephone number or e-mail address
- Do not reveal the name or location of the hospital in which your loved one died
Place your card or letter in an unsealed, unstamped envelope. Include in the envelope on a separate piece of paper:
- Your full name
- Your loved one’s full name
- Your loved one’s date of death
Mail the correspondence to:
LifeSource Donor Family Advocate
2225 West River Road North
Minneapolis, MN 55411
Or, you are welcome to send your letter in an email to our Donor Family Advocates at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Donor Family Advocate will review your card or letter and then forward it on to the appropriate transplant center or tissue partner who will, in turn, forward it to the recipient(s). Since your card or letter must be mailed to LifeSource and then forwarded, please allow extra time for it to reach the recipient(s). It may take several weeks after you’ve mailed it for the recipient(s) to receive it.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will receive a response. Many transplant recipients have said that they are overwhelmed with emotion and have difficulty expressing their gratitude in words. Some may take several months or years before they feel comfortable writing to their donor family.
We do have a process in place if both the donor family and transplant recipient are interested in communicating directly. Please contact our Donor Family Advocates at email@example.com or 1.888.536.6283 for more information. We are happy to facilitate those next steps.
If the right words seem hard to find, or you have any questions or concerns about writing, please contact a LifeSource Donor Family Advocate at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-536-6283. You may also contact one of our donor family advocates below: