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Writing to a Transplant Recipient

As a donor family member, you may wish to correspond with the recipients of your loved one’s gifts. Here are some tips to facilitate that dialogue.

As a donor family member, you may wish to correspond with the recipients of your loved one’s organs, corneas or tissues.

The decision to write to a recipient is personal and does not need to be made immediately. You may not be ready to write to the recipients.  It may take months or even years until you feel able to write. There is no time limit for sending a letter.

Phillip Malone hears his son’s heart beat in the chest of heart transplant recipient, Todd Stickel.

Phillip Malone hears his son’s heart beat in the chest of heart transplant recipient, Todd Stickel.

Anyone in your family may write, but we will always let the immediate next of kin know about the correspondence.

Gift of Life Family Support Services facilitates the delivery of correspondence between donor families and transplant recipients.

You may consider sending a hand-written letter or greeting card or if you prefer, you can complete the form at the bottom of this page to send an e-message.

Tips for writing:
  • It can be helpful for you to share a favorite memory of your loved one
  • You can include your loved one’s interests or hobbies
  • You may want to write about how your decision to donate has impacted you and your family
  • If you have difficulty writing a letter, you may feel more comfortable sending a card. A “thinking of you” card or a blank card could be a good place to start.
  • Avoid details about medical information or cause of death
  • Use only your first name, as well as the first name of your loved one and other family members
  • Do not reveal your home address or other contact information
Sending your correspondence

When closing your card or letter, sign your first name only; due to confidentiality policies, identifying information cannot be shared. If this information is included in your letter, it will be edited prior to forwarding to the recipient. If we have questions about the content of your letter, we will contact you.

  • Place your card or letter in an unsealed envelope
  • On a separate piece of paper include your full name, your loved one’s name and the date of donation
  • There is no need to include postage for the letter intended for the recipient. Gift of Life will cover the cost of sending it on to them.
  • Because your letter will be reviewed and then forwarded, allow extra time for it to reach the recipient

Mail to:

Gift of Life Donor Program

Attn: Family Support Services

401 N. 3rd St.

Philadelphia, PA 19123

Writing to tissue recipients

When your loved one has donated tissue, the letter writing process is different than organ transplant communications.

Gift of Life works with our tissue and eye bank partners to forward letters from donor families. Tissue banks work hard to ensure as many recipients as possible receive these letters, but may be unable to contact every recipient. One of the Family Support Services counselors can explain the process to you in more detail.

Will I receive a response?

Please know that you may not hear from the recipient. Some transplant recipients welcome corresponding with the donor family. Others are overwhelmed by the situation and find it difficult to express their feelings and gratitude. Certain recipients prefer to remain private.

We do know that recipients appreciate hearing from donor families. We understand how difficult it may be for you to write a letter, and we thank you for your thoughtfulness.

If you have questions or need assistance with writing to recipients, please contact Family Support Services at 800-366-6771.

You can also send a message using this form:

Write to the Transplant Recipient

*Indicates a required field

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • At times, Gift of Life may share letters from families of donors with our community partners for awareness and education related to organ and tissue donation. It can be very meaningful to hear, in their own words, what donation means to the family of the donor. Please indicate if you authorize Gift of Life Donor Program, its affiliated organizations, and community partners to reprint or share the contents of your letter as described. Personal identifying information such as full names will not be shared.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.