Writing Your Letter

Things You Can Include

Writing a letter to your donor family may feel overwhelming and difficult. Here are some suggestions to help you get started. If you are having trouble, keep in mind that your letter does not have to be long! A simple thanks is a wonderful way to give back to your donor family.

  • Recognize the donor family and express your gratitude
  • Briefly discuss why you needed a transplant
  • Tell them how the transplant has impacted your life — perhaps talk about the activities you can now do because of your transplant
  • Write about significant life events or adventures that you may not have been able to experience if you had not received the transplant
  • Tell them about yourself: your age, family composition, hobbies, interests, job (without the company name), and geographic state are all non personally identifiable pieces of information that you could include
  • Consider including a picture of yourself or artwork — you can add up to three image files in your letter on TNet

Hint: If you are having trouble writing your letter, click here for a letter template. All you have to do is fill in the blanks to craft your own meaningful letter.

What to Avoid

  • Try to use simple language and not include too much medical terminology
  • Do not refer to your transplanted organ by a nickname
  • Do not pressure your donor family to meet or write back
  • Avoid strong language and profanity
  • Of course, you may not include threats, requests for money, or any other obviously inappropriate content
  • It is recommended that you maintain your anonymity in your early letter exchanges by leaving out identifiable personal information. Some OPOs may restrict the sharing of such personal information altogether; read more in the next section

Your Anonymity and Confidentiality

Organ donations are handled as anonymous gifts. Thus, each OPO has different policies and procedures regarding the sharing of information that may give away your identity, such as your full name, email address, phone number, social media accounts, and transplant program. Some OPOs may edit or send back letters from transplant recipients and donor families if they include such information. Others will want to speak with both the author and the intended recipient of the letter to discuss the implications and possible outcomes and ask them to sign a general release. If you plan to provide personal information or contact address in your letter, please keep in mind that a reviewer may edit it out.

The policies of OPOs may also differ regarding the inclusion of a photo of yourself in your letter. Most will pass them on normally as long as there is no other identifiable information, but some may interpret such photos as personally identifiable information in and of themselves.

Click here for a comprehensive list of OPOs and their website links if you would like to check the policies and procedures of your local OPO.