Writing to Organ Recipients
The decision to correspond with your loved one’s recipient(s) is a personal one. Some wish to share their loved one’s story, while others wish to learn more about recipients. All correspondence is anonymous and identities are kept confidential until both you and the recipient agree to share identifying information. If you are considering writing to your loved one’s recipient(s), please use the following guide when you draft your correspondence.
Download the Writing to Transplant Recipients guide (PDF):
It’s important to remember that while you may wish to correspond with a transplant recipient, it’s the recipient’s personal choice whether or not to return the sentiment. Some transplant recipients have said that the emotions surrounding their lifesaving gift can be overwhelming, and it’s difficult for them to express their gratitude in words. Still others may take several months or years before they feel comfortable responding.
Meeting Organ Recipients
LifeGift requires and recommends that you reach out to your loved one’s recipients by first writing a letter to ensure there is a mutual agreement to meet and/or exchange identifying contact information. Once this has occurred, LifeGift will offer to facilitate a meeting.
Due to the large number of lives saved with a single tissue donation, communication with tissue recipients differs from that of organ recipients. Our partner tissue donation organizations have explained that health care providers are prevented from releasing specific information about tissue recipients. Only the recipient may approve release of their information, therefore, contact cannot be initiated by the donor family.
However, several programs have recently been created to encourage tissue recipients to reach out to their donor families. As a result, the number of correspondence received has greatly increased. Should LifeGift receive a letter from one of your loved one’s tissue recipients, we will forward it as soon as possible. For this reason, it’s important to keep LifeGift informed with your most up-to-date mailing address.
In November 2013, Rob Heidemann – father to organ, tissue and hand donor, Ian Heidemann – and his family, had the rare opportunity to meet Ian’s recipients. In this photo, Rob listens to his son’s heart in recipient, Reginald King.