Organ Donors: 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
- If you are married, have children, grandchildren, etc.
- 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.
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.