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Treatments & Procedures

Contacting the Family of Your Organ Donor

Any time after your transplant, you may decide to write to the family of your organ donor. This decision is a personal one. In order for you to make the decision, it may be helpful for you to know that donor families have expressed their appreciation for the correspondence they receive from recipients.

You do not have to contact the donor's family -- this information is provided for you only if you decide to do so.

What information should I include?

Here is some information you may want to include in your letter to the donor's family:

  • Your first name only
  • The state where you live
  • Recognize the donor family and thank them for their gift
  • How long you waited for a transplant and how the wait affected you and your family
  • How the transplant has improved your health and changed your life
  • What has happened in your life since the transplant
  • Mention if you are married, have children, grandchildren, etc.
  • State your hobbies or interests

What information should not be included?

  • Do not include your address, city or phone number
  • Do not include the name or location of the hospital where your transplant surgery was performed, nor the names of your transplant health care providers
  • Use caution when including religious comments, as you do not know the religion of the donor's family

How can I send the letter to my donor's family?

After you write a letter to the donor's family, place it an unsealed envelope (the correspondence is reviewed for confidentiality) and include a separate sheet of paper with your full name and date of transplant. Send this information in a separate envelope to:

Lung Transplant Coordinator
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation
9500 Euclid Avenue, A110
Cleveland, OH 44195

After receiving your correspondence, the transplant coordinator forwards it to LifeBanc, northeastern Ohio's organ procurement agency. LifeBanc will notify the donor's family that there is correspondence from the recipient.

Confidentiality

In general, the identities of the donor and the recipient of the organ are confidential, to protect each individual's privacy.

Although there is no law that a donor's family and the organ recipient cannot meet and know each others' names, all organ procurement agencies (such as LifeBanc) maintain the privacy of the donors and recipients.

Will I hear from the donor's family?

You may or may not hear from your donor's family. Some donor families may feel that writing about their loved one and their decision to donate helps them with their grieving. Others choose not to write to the organ recipient.

If the donor's family chooses to respond, they will send a letter to LifeBanc. LifeBanc will forward the correspondence to your transplant coordinator, who will forward the response to you.

© Copyright 1995-2009 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

Can't find the health information you're looking for?

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 9/15/2008...#9969