The Gift of Life
Writing to Your Donor's Family
Writing to your donor's family can be emotionally tough, but also very cathartic. Transplant recipients are welcome and encouraged to write at any point after the transplant! Guidelines for how to write are below.
For many donor families, learning that their loved one’s organs, eyes, or tissue changed or saved your life is extremely validating and can help with their grief.
After initial written contact, you might want to talk by phone or meet your donor's family in person. Gift of Life Michigan can help facilitate this, provided both parties have expressed interest and signed authorization forms for release of information.
Because of patient confidentiality laws, the first step in the process involves writing a note or letter that Gift of Life will send to your donor's family on your behalf. If your donor’s family wishes to have future contact, they will respond to you through Gift of Life.
To meet them, we ask that you’ve first established some contact through anonymous correspondence, and then everyone must complete an authorization form.
How to Initiate Contact With Your Donor's Family
- If you aren’t sure what to say, send a simple “thinking of you” card, ask them how they’re doing, or say you’re sorry for their loss and wait for a response.
- Tell them how you’re doing since you had your transplant, tell them which organ you received and let them know how much you appreciate their gift.
- Give general information about your family, occupation, interests, etc. Don’t include any identifying information, such as your last name, city, employer or name of the hospital where you received your transplant.
- On a separate piece of paper, list your full name, address, transplant center, date of transplant and organ transplanted. This will enable Gift of Life staff to pass your correspondence on to your donor family.