Transplant Cafe Letter to donor family (or recipient)

Blog Information

  • Posted By : Pierre Charland
  • Posted On : Dec 15, 2018
  • Comments : 3
  • Views : 826
  • Likes : 2
  • Category : Donors Families
  • Description : Only few people write letters to their donor family.   Most should do it and it would make them feel good about it.


  • Writing a letter to the donor family is the first step in trying to make contact with and thanking them for the gift of life.  Some patients do it during the first year, some do it later.  It just depends on if the person is “there”.  The donor’s next of kin is the one who would receive it… if it gets to that person.  Here is the deal:  a letter has to change hands many times before it gets to destination.  The letter exchange can go as follow:

    1. Transplant recipient gives it to the transplant coordinator
    2. Transplant coordinator gives it to the social worker
    3. Social worker gives it to the local OPO donor family representative
    4. If donor was outside the region then the letter is sent to that OPO
    5. Then the letter is given to the organ donor family.

    This could easily take weeks if not months before it gets to destination.  If it does.  It is much slower than USPS!   Here are the times where the system could break down:

    • One person in the chain loses the letter
    • One person in the chain changes job and does not forward the letter
    • Donor family moved and did not changed their address
    • Donor family not answering calls by OPO
    • Donor family not ready for the letter
    • No donor family alive or available

    If you have written a letter and it has been months and have not received an answer, I would at least try a second and maybe a third time but months apart.  It is possible the letter did not make it to destination and in turn you would never receive a reply.  I have seen reunions of donor family and transplant recipients and for a lot of them it brings a closure.  Just do it, you won’t regret.