Tips for Writing to Your Donor or Transplant Recipient

Trinity Lazo, a heart transplant recipient, holding a photograph of Logan, her donor. To read her story, click here.

It goes without saying that the organ donation process can be an emotionally volatile time for both the donor family and the transplant recipient. After a successful transplant has been performed, it is not uncommon for the transplant recipient to want to reach out to the donor family and thank them for the selfless, life-giving decision that their loved one made. For many donor families who are going through the painful process of grieving, being able to connect with the transplant recipient can often provide them with a sense of comfort and encouragement, and it can bring healing to wounded hearts. If you would like to write a personal note to your donor family or transplant recipient, below is a step-by-step guide to help you send your written correspondence.

  1. Provide basic information.

If you are a donor family, provide the loved one’s first name only; if you are a transplant recipient, include your first name only. You can also include the state in which you live (do not mention the city), as well as general family information such as marital status, or how many children/grandchildren you have (please do not include last names). Should you choose to do so, you can also provide a little bit of background information about the donor’s/transplant recipient’s life, such as their/your occupation, interests or hobbies.

  1. Speak from the heart.

If you are a transplant recipient, feel free to express your gratitude for your donor’s selfless gift, as well as sympathy for the family’s loss. You can also share how this gift has positively impacted your life. If you are a donor family, you can provide some insight as to why your loved one decided to donate, and you can also wish the recipient well in his/her recovery. Do not feel any pressure to write a lengthy letter; just speak from the heart and share from your own experience. Sometimes just a couple of sentences is all it takes to bring a sense of comfort and peace to a grieving family, or to give a new transplant recipient a sense of hope and affirmation.

  1. Close and mail your card or letter.

In order to protect the confidentiality of both the donor and the transplant recipient, LifeCenter will facilitate the initial written correspondence between both parties. Sign the card or letter using your first name only, and do not reveal any personal contact information such as street address, phone number or city. In addition, do not reveal the name of the hospital where the transplant took place. Place your card or letter in an unsealed envelope, and on a separate sheet of paper, include your full name (if you’re the transplant recipient) or the donor’s full name (if you’re the donor family). You should also include the date of the transplant or donation. Mail your correspondence to the following address:
Co: Family Services LifeCenter 615 Elsinore Place, Suite 400 Cincinnati, OH 45202

  1. Allow for extra mailing time.

All written correspondence will be reviewed by LifeCenter and double-checked for confidentiality before it is forwarded to the Organ Procurement Organization (OPO), who will then send the letter or card to the donor family or transplant recipient(s). Please allow for extra mailing time so that this process can be completed. It is important to note that the grieving process is different for each family, so you may not receive a timely response, and it is possible that you might not receive a response at all. Many donor families and transplant recipients have remarked that it is difficult to express their feelings about such an emotionally sensitive situation.

Choosing to reach out to your donor family or transplant recipient is a very personal decision, and it is yours alone to make. Use the steps outlined above to ensure that what you share from your heart will reach the intended family or individual.