Writing to Your Donor’s Family
Many transplants recipients feel compelled to reach out to their donor’s family to thank them for sharing the selfless gift an organ, eye or tissue donation. Your decision to write a letter can be a moving experience.
If you write to your donor family, you may send a greeting card, letter or photos. You may use the following suggestions as a guide to help you with your correspondence.
If you need further assistance writing to your donor’s family, please call LifeSource at 612-800-6100 or toll-free at 1-888-536-6283.
Letter Writing FAQs
You may choose to write at any time after your transplant; there is no required “waiting period.”
Share anything that feels right to you. Transplant recipients often choose to write to their donor families to express their gratitude. Many donor families have said a card or personal note from their loved one’s recipient offers comfort.
Share general information:
- Your name (please include your first name only)
- The state (not the city) in which you live
- Your job or occupation
- Your hobbies or interests
- Your family situation, such as marital status, children or grandchildren (please do not include last names)
- If sharing your faith, please consider that the family may have different spiritual beliefs.
Talk about your transplant experience:
- Use simple language; refrain from using too much medical terminology
- Recognize the donor family and thank them for their loved one’s gift
- Describe how long you waited for a transplant
- Avoid referring to your transplanted organ by a nickname
- Share what the wait was like for you and your family
- Explain how the transplant has improved your health and changed your life
- Explain what has happened in your life since your transplant?
- Did you celebrate another birthday?
- Did your son or daughter marry?
- Did you become a parent or grandparent?
- Did you return to school or accept a new job?
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 your hospital or physician
Place your card or letter in an unsealed, unstamped envelope. Be sure to include your full name and date of transplant on a separate piece of paper. Please place these items into another envelope and mail them to your transplant center. The transplant center staff will then forward it to LifeSource.
A LifeSource Donor Family Advocate will review your card or letter to ensure confidentiality, and will then mail it to your donor family.
Since your card or letter must be mailed to the transplant center and then forwarded to LifeSource, please allow extra time for it to reach your donor’s family. It may take several weeks after you’ve mailed it for the family to receive it.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will receive a response from your donor family.
Just as writing to your donor family is a deeply personal decision, so is the donor family’s decision about whether or not they write to their loved one’s recipients. Some donor families have said that writing about their loved one and their decision to donate helps them in their grief journey. Other families may not be ready to write to their loved one’s recipients.
Either way, your written correspondence to your donor family is a unique opportunity to thank them for their decision to donate.
Donor families have shared that donation is often the only positive to come from the death of their loved one. Your card or letter reaffirms to them that donation saves lives and that their gift was truly appreciated.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We are happy to facilitate those next steps.