The decision to write to a recipient is yours alone.

The Texas Organ Sharing Alliance encourages written correspondence between a recipient and donor family. However, whether you write to a recipient or not is your decision.

Because we feel strongly about safeguarding the privacy of the donor family and recipient(s), all initial correspondence is anonymous. Identities are kept confidential until both the donor family and the recipient agree to release personal information about themselves and are willing to accept personal information about the other.

Guidelines for Writing to a Transplant Recipient

Talk about the donation experience:

  • You may want to briefly explain the circumstances that led to your loved one becoming a donor.
  • You may want to explain why you agreed to donate.
  • Do not reveal the name or location of the hospital where your loved one became a donor.
  • Do not include any direct contact information within your letter.

Talk about your loved one:

  • Include the donor’s first name only.
  • Let them know about your loved one’s hobbies or interests.
  • Tell them about his or her job and/or occupation.
  • Write about the donor’s family situation such as marital status, children or grandchildren, and your relationship to the donor. (Again, no last names).

Other things to consider:

  • Use simple language.
  • If there is more than one recipient, you may write separate letters or use the same letter for all the recipients.
  • The religion of a recipient is unknown so please consider this if you are including religious comments.

Mailing your card or letter

  1. Place your card or letter in an unsealed envelope.
  2. Include a separate piece of paper with your loved one’s name and date of donation.
  3. Place these items in another envelope and mail them to:

    Clarissa Thompson
    Donor Family and Volunteer Services Coordinator
    Texas Organ Sharing Alliance
    8122 Datapoint, Suite 200
    San Antonio, Texas 78229

The Donor Family and Volunteer Services Coordinator will review your letter to ensure confidentiality and will then forward it to the recipient’s transplant center. The transplant center will then forward your letter to the recipient.

Since your letter must go through so many hands, it may take a few weeks for a recipient to receive your letter. If you want the card or letter to arrive by a specific date, please allow extra time for it to reach the recipient.

Should I Write to a Recipient?

Sometimes a member of the donor’s family will want to write to a transplant recipient to tell them about the person who saved their life. Others write hoping they will receive letters from the recipient(s) telling them how they are doing.

We have found that many recipients want to write to the donor’s family. They want to say “thank you” for the life-saving gift they have received. Many also want to know more about the donor whose organ is now a part of them. However, in most instances, they have said that this is one of the most difficult letters they have ever written.

The ironic part is that, even though both sides want to know more about the other, they are reluctant to write because they do not want to intrude. The Texas Organ Sharing Alliance encourages correspondence between a recipient and donor family. However whether you write to a recipient or not is your decision.

Sometimes the hardest part is writing those first few words. If you want to write and are having trouble with this or if you need more information about writing to a recipient, please call our San Antonio office at (210) 614-7030 or 1-866-685-0277 (Toll-Free).

Guidelines for Direct Communication

  • At least one letter must be exchanged between a donor family and recipient in order to submit a request for direct communication
  • The donor family member must be listed as Next of Kin (NOK) on chart

Direct Communication can include the following:

  • Mailing letters directly to one another
  • Speaking on the telephone to one another
  • E-mailing one another
  • Meeting in person

How to Submit a Request for Direct Communication:

Once the above guideline for direct communication has been met please submit the following:

  • A written request for "Consent for Release Forms" to be mailed to you and the recipients(s) who have met the above criteria include your loved one's name and date of donation
  • Mail written request to:
    Clarissa Thompson
    Donor Family & Volunteer Services
    Texas Organ Sharing Alliance
    8122 Datapoint Dr., Ste. 200
    San Antonio, Texas 78229

Once TOSA receives completed "Consent for Release Forms" from both the donor family and recipient, direct contact information will be exchanged.

Will I Hear From the Recipients?

You may hear from all, some or none of the recipients. Most recipients have said that writing to their donor’s family is the most difficult thing they have ever done.

Some recipients feel guilty because they are still alive, but the donor is not. While the recipients are grateful for the gift, they are afraid their letter might cause the family pain by bringing back memories of the donor. Some recipients have taken a couple of years to write to the donor’s family. In some cases recipients are more likely to write to the donor family if the donor family initiates the contact.