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Writing to Your Donor's Family
As a transplant recipient, you have the opportunity to write to the family of your donor through Gift of Life Donor Program. Many patients write to share information about their progress and their renewed lives, but all reach out to express their gratitude and to say "thank you."
We know that families of donors welcome and appreciate this. When you acknowledge the donor family's loss and express your thanks, you make their loved one's gift even more meaningful and offer the family some comfort.
Gift of Life Donor Program encourages recipients or their families to write to donor families, and facilitates the exchange of all letters and correspondence between transplant recipients and donor families. All correspondence is reviewed by our Family Support Services department.
If you would like to write to your donor family, consider sending a hand-written or typed letter or a greeting card. Or fill out the form below to send a letter to us electronically.
Tips for Writing to Your Donor Family
When writing about yourself:
- Include your first name only (and first names of your family if you choose to include them).
- Acknowledge the donor family's loss and thank them for their gift.
- Discuss your family situation such as marital status, children or grandchildren. Describe the type of transplant you received. (One donor may have benefited many people).
- Use simple language. Avoid complex medical terms and giving too much detail about your medical history.
- Describe how long you waited for a transplant. What was the wait like for you and your family?
- Explain how the transplant has improved your health and changed your life. Did you return to work, school or accept a new job? Did you celebrate another birthday? Did your son or daughter marry? Did you become a parent or grandparent?
- Share your hobbies or interests.
- Consider omitting any religious comments, since the religion of the donor family is unknown.
When closing your card or letter, please sign your first name only – do not reveal your address, city or phone number, or your physician's name or the name or location of the hospital. Please be aware that due to our confidentiality policy, identifying information including last names, contact information and hospital information cannot be shared. If such information is included in your letter, it will be edited prior to forwarding to your donor family. Should Gift of Life have questions about the content of your letter, we will contact you.
You may or may not receive a letter from your donor family. Some donor families have said that writing about their loved one and their decision to donate helps them in their grieving process. Other donor families, even though they are comfortable with their decision to donate, may prefer privacy and choose not to write.
We thank you for your thoughtfulness. We know that donor families appreciate hearing from recipients. Remember the donor family may still be coping with the loss of their loved one, and individuals manage grief in different ways. While you may be celebrating the anniversary of receiving your transplant, someone else is remembering a loss. Help the family understand the importance of their decision to donate. Let them know that their loved one will never be forgotten.
Family Support Services
Gift of Life Donor Program
401 N. 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Or, you can email your letter using the form below:
For additional assistance with writing to your donor family, please e-mail us or call Family Support Services at 800-DONORS-1.
National Donor Sabbath, observed annually in November, seeks to educate faith-based communities about the need for organ, eye and tissue donors. Order free materials to celebrate National Donor Sabbath, taking place Nov. 13-15!
Each volunteer group works closely with Gift of Life to implement programs and campaigns throughout the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.