Less than 20% of donor families receive a note from the recipient of their loved one’s gift of life, yet the #1 comment LifeLink receives from families on aftercare surveys is what a comfort it is to hear from those who benefitted from their loved one’s donation. Though many recipients often worry that “thank you” isn’t enough, according to donor family members – a “thank you” is plenty.
LifeLink, as an organ and tissue recovery organization, is here to help facilitate communication between donor families and recipients, which can both help grieving families heal and allow recipients the chance to express their gratitude for the lifesaving gift they received.
If you are a recipient interested in writing a note of thanks to your donor family for the Gift of Life that you received, please view our Writing to Donor Families Brochure for more information on the preferred communication process and where to direct the correspondence to your donor family. For those recipients who may be struggling to find the “right words”, we encourage you to view our sample messages written for donor families.
Some additional guidelines to help you as you write your correspondence:
- Please address your correspondence to the donor family as “Dear Donor Family.”
- Identify yourself by your first name only and add the organ you received. For example, “John, heart recipient.”
- Please do not include identifying information such as your last name, hometown, hospital where donation or transplant occurred, date of transplant, etc.
- Describe how long you waited for a transplant, and the impact of the wait on you and your family.
- Explain how your life and health have improved since your transplant.
- You might consider including your interests, family situation (spouse, children, grandchildren), hobbies or occupation.
- Please be aware that the individual or family you are corresponding with may have different religious beliefs than your own, and keep that in mind when making religious comments or references.
- Recognize the donor family and thank them for their gift.
All organ transplant recipients writing to their donor family should mail their letter to their organ transplant center, to the attention of their transplant coordinator. The transplant coordinator will then forward the letter to the appropriate organ recovery organization that facilitated organ and/or tissue recovery for your donor family. The recovery organization will then share your letter with the donor family, if they’ve agreed to receive recipient communication.
Please be aware that you may or may not receive a response from your donor family. Many donor families have shared that writing about their loved one and their donation experience helps them in their grieving process. They often feel very close to the recipients and welcome written communication from them. Other donor families, though comfortable with their decision to donate, prefer privacy and choose not to write to their transplant recipient(s). It’s important to remember that the donor’s family may still be coping with the loss of their loved one, so please communicate accordingly and in a sensitive manner.
If you have questions and/or would like additional information on contacting your donor family, please contact the LifeLink office serving the state of your transplant center by clicking here.