The decision to write to a donor family is yours alone.
The Texas Organ Sharing Alliance encourages written correspondence between recipient(s) and the donor family. However, whether you write to the donor family or not is your decision.
Because we feel strongly about safeguarding the privacy of a donor family and the 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.
Will I Hear From the Donor Family?
You may or may not hear from the donor family. Some donor families have said writing about their loved one and the decision to donate helps them in their grieving process. Others, even though they are comfortable with their decision to donate, prefer privacy and choose not to write to a recipient.
Remember, the donor family may still be coping with the loss of their loved one, and individuals manage grief in different ways.
If you would like to write to a donor family, the following are some guidelines for you:
Talk about yourself:
- Include your first name only.
- You may tell them what state you live in but do not include your address, city or your phone number.
- You may write about your job and/or occupation.
- You may write about your family situation such as your marital status, your children or grandchildren. (No last names).
- Let them know about your hobbies or other interests.
- Please do not place any direct contact information within your letter.
Talk about your transplant experience:
- Describe how long you waited for your transplant and/or what the wait was like for you and your family.
- Explain how the transplant has improved your health and changed your life.
- About participating in activities now that you couldn’t before your transplant.
- Explain what has happened in your life since your transplant. (Did you celebrate another birthday? Did your son or daughter marry? Did you become a parent or grandparent? Did you return to school or start a new job?)
- Do not reveal the name, location of the hospital or the name of your physician.
Other things to consider:
- Use simple language.
- Recognize the donor family and thank them for their gift.
- Since the religion of the donor’s family is unknown, please consider this if you are including religious comments.
Mailing your card/letter:
- Place your card/letter in an unsealed envelope.
- Include a separate piece of paper with your full name and date of your transplant.
- Place these items in another envelope and mail them to:
Donor Family and Volunteer Services Coordinator
Texas Organ Sharing Alliance
8122 Datapoint, Suite 200
San Antonio, Texas 78229
If you choose to mail your correspondence to the transplant center, the transplant center will forward your letter to the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance. Our Donor Family and Volunteer Services Coordinator will review your letter to ensure confidentiality and will then forward your card/letter to the donor family.
Since your card/letter must go through so many hands, it may take a few weeks for the donor family to receive your letter. If you want the card/letter to arrive by a specific date, please allow extra time for it to reach the donor family.
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
- Emailing one another
- Meeting one another 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 recipient(s) who have met the above criteria (include your loved ones full name and date of donation)
- Mail written request to:
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
We know most transplant recipient(s) are curious about their donor. They write to their donor family in hopes of receiving a letter in return which will tell them something about the donor who is now a part of them.
We also know donor families want to know about the people who received their loved one’s organs, specifically how they are doing. Many donor families have said receiving a personal note from the recipient offers them some comfort and reinforces their feelings that some good was able to come out of their tragedy. They appreciate any correspondence they receive.
The ironic part is that even though both sides want to know more about the other, they hesitate to write the first card/letter because they don’t want to intrude. As a result, both sides wait for the other to write first.
In almost every instance, the recipient(s) admit this is one of the most difficult letters they have ever written. Sometimes the hardest part is writing those first few words. If you want to write and are having trouble, please don’t hesitate to call (210) 614-7030 or 1-866-685-0277.