Writing to Donor Families

Some transplant recipients choose to contact the families of their donors.


Writing to Donor Families

As a transplant recipient, you may want to write to the family of your donor to share information about your renewed life and to express your gratitude.

We know that families of organ and tissue donors often find this comforting. When you acknowledge their loss and express your thanks, you make their loved one’s gift even more meaningful.

Gift of Life Donor Program encourages recipients and/or their families to write to donor families. Because of patient confidentiality laws, we’ll deliver the letter on your behalf. If your donor’s family wishes to communicate with you, they will respond through Gift of Life.

If you would like to write to your donor family, consider sending a letter or a greeting card.

Tips for what to include

  • Explain how the transplant changed your life.
  • Share your family situation, such as siblings, marital status, children and/or grandchildren.
  • Describe important life moments– such as birthdays, return to school or work, becoming a parent or grandparent– that have occurred since your transplant.
  • Include the type of transplant you received.
  • Tell how much you appreciate their gift to you.

Writing guidelines

  • Use simple language and communicate in a sensitive manner.
  • Don’t include any identifying information, such as your last name, city, the name of your physician or name of the hospital where you received your transplant.
  • Consider omitting any religious comments, because the religion of the donor family is unknown.

Will the donor family write back?

Donor families are coping with the loss of a loved one and each manage its grief in different ways. Some donor families find that writing about their loved one and their decision to donate helps in their grieving process.  Other donor families prefer privacy and do not write back.

Where to send your letter or card

Mail your letter or note card to:

Family Support Services

Gift of Life Donor Program

401 N. 3rd Street

Philadelphia, PA 19123

For additional information or to submit your letter electronically, donors1.org/writing.

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