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Transplant recipients

Your story is a testament to the healing power of donation. As a transplant recipient, you are uniquely able to advocate for donation. It’s authentic stories like yours that help people really understand what it means to be a donor and the impact of saying yes to organ and tissue donation.

We’re here to help you get answers to your questions about donation, reach out to your donor’s family, and get involved in the community to inspire others to register as a donor.

Writing to your donor family

The decision to correspond with your donor family is a personal one. Some wish to express their gratitude and, in return, many donor families have said a card or a personal note from a transplant recipient offers some comfort. All correspondence is anonymous and identities are kept confidential until both you and your donor’s family agree to share identifying information. 

If you are considering writing to your donor family, please use the following helpful guide when you draft your correspondence.

1. Provide general information about yourself

This may include:

  • Your first name – please do not include your last name<
  • Your job or occupation
  • The state (not city) in which you live
  • Your marital status, children, grandchildren

Carefully consider whether to include religious comments because the views of your donor family are unknown.

2. Talk about your transplant experience

  • Use simple language
  • Recognize the donor family and thank them for their gift
  • Discuss the experience and how long you waited for a transplant
  • Explain how the transplant has improved your health and changed your life. Detail whether you now can participate in activities unheard of prior to your transplant.
  • Describe key life moments that have occurred since your transplant. Did you celebrate another birthday? Did you bear a son or daughter? Did you return to school or accept a new job?

3. Conclude your letter

  • Sign your first name only
  • Do not reveal your address, city, email or phone number
  • Do not reveal the name or location of the hospital where the transplant took place

4. Send your letter

  • Place the letter in an unsealed envelope
  • Include a separate piece of paper in the envelope listing your full name and the date of your transplant

Mail the information to the coordinator at your transplant center who will, in turn, forward the correspondence to LifeGift. We will review the letter to ensure confidentiality and then mail it to your donor family. Please allow several weeks for this process.

Will I hear from the donor family?

While you may wish to correspond with a donor family, it also is a personal choice whether they return the sentiment. Some families say it helps in the grieving process while others prefer privacy and choose not to respond. Still others may take several months or years before they feel comfortable responding.

If you need further information about corresponding with a donor family, you may contact LifeGift at familyservices@lifegift.org or 800-633-6562.

Can I meet my donor family?

LifeGift requires and recommends that you reach out to your donor family 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.

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I always will have my sister in my heart, and now I will have her within my sight.

– Shannon Hartley, Cornea Recipient and Donor Sister

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