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Contacting Your Donor Family

Sometimes donor families and recipients decide to contact one another. The decision to contact your donor family is entirely your own. Some people find comfort in correspondence, while others prefer not to make this choice. Either way you choose, the correspondence must be coordinated through the transplant center and the organ procurement organization (OPO). Each transplant center may have different procedures for contacting donor families, so it is best that you talk to your transplant coordinator or OPO for specific recommendations and requirements. Each transplant center and OPO have policies in place to protect the privacy of both parties. Correspondence remains private, unless both parties decide to meet.

In general, when you are writing your letter things you want to avoid includes:

  • Any specific information about yourself or your family (i.e. age, where you live).

  • The name of your surgeon or transplant center.

  • Religious terminology.

Things that are okay to include:

  • How grateful you are for their loved one’s donation.

  • Awareness of the donor family’s loss.

  • Something about yourself and your family (hobbies, interests).

  • The difference the transplant made in your life (how you feel, what you are able to do).

  • What you have been able to do after transplant (any life events like marriage, graduation, travel, the birth of children or grandchildren).

Mailing your Letter- General Guidelines

  1. Place your card in an unsealed envelope.

  2. Include a separate piece of paper with your full name and the date of your transplant.

  3. Place these items in another envelope and mail them to your transplant center.

Note: It may take several weeks for your letter to actually reach the donor family.

What happens once the transplant center receives your letter?

1. The transplant center will forward your letter to your OPO.

2. A coordinator from the OPO will review it to ensure confidentiality.

3. The coordinator will then contact the donor family to ask if they wish to accept correspondence from recipients

4. If the donor family does not wish to communicate, the OPO will inform your transplant center accordingly

5. If the donor family does wish to communicate, the OPO will forward your letter to them


There is no law that prevents a recipient and donor family from meeting, however, all OPO’s will have policies in place to protect the privacy of both parties. This is important because one party may feel uncomfortable with the situation and the OPO’s goal is to make the exchange of communication as smooth as possible.

Hearing from the Donor’s Family

You may or may not hear from the donor’s family if you choose to write a letter. It is completely up to the donor’s family whether or not they choose to accept the correspondence and it is their decision if they choose to respond to the letter. If the family does choose do respond, the family will send their letter to the OPO, and the OPO will forward the message to you.

If you wish to learn more information on this topic please visit this page.


  1.  Contacting My Donor Family. Transplant Living. Accessed April 27, 2020.

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