Writing to Organ Transplant Recipients

Writing to a recipient is a personal choice, but one that can prove to be very rewarding and comforting. Recipients often express appreciation for letters or cards that they receive from donor families. Any decision you make regarding whether or not to correspond with recipients will be respected by us.

Writing Your Letter
Your correspondence may include a simple card, a note, or a letter. This correspondence may be typed or handwritten; it can be anonymous or you may include information about yourself and/or your loved one.

If you decide to write to your recipient(s), your communication will have a profound impact. In order to ensure that the communication will be helpful, Donor Network West reviews all correspondence before it is forwarded. If we have concerns, we will speak with you to address these, and we will assist you with the necessary changes.

Information you may wish to include:

  • Age, sex, occupation and/or hobbies of your loved one
  • The donor’s illness or cause of death
  • The impact donation had on you, your family, and/or your community
  • Your relationship to the donor
  • NOTE: While Donor Network West does not restrict the inclusion of identifying or contact information in the body of correspondence, we would like you to be sure you have considered all potential outcomes before disclosing this information and encourage your first correspondence to be anonymous.

 Examples of inappropriate correspondence:

  • Pressure on the other party to meet in person
  • Pressure on the other party to write back
  • Release of the names of other recipients
  • Expressions of regret about donation

Mailing Your Letter
On a separate sheet of paper, write your full name, address, phone number, the name and date of death of your loved one.

Place the sheet of paper along with your card or letter in an unsealed envelope.

Mail the envelope to:
Donor Network West
Attention: Aftercare
12667 Alcosta Blvd., Suite 500
San Ramon, CA 94583

Or email aftercare@dnwest.org.

When Donor Network West Receives Your Letter
Donor Network West evaluates each letter for content. When the correspondence has been accepted, our Aftercare Department will forward the letter to the recipient’s transplant center. After the transplant center reviews the letter, they will either forward it to the recipient, or send it back to us with an explanation of why they are unable to forward the correspondence. We will notify you if your correspondence is unable to be forwarded, and provide you with an explanation.

Will I Receive a Response?
Through the years, we have discovered that some transplant recipients may send a letter or card to you in response, while others may choose not to write. Like your decision to write, this is their personal decision. If you do not hear from the recipients, we urge you to not take this silence personally. We find that many transplant recipients are hesitant to respond because they feel overwhelmed by your generosity and their emotion hinders their ability to express their full gratitude in writing.

Contact with Tissue Recipients
Because tissue grafts are more numerous and are not transplanted immediately, correspondence between tissue donors and recipients occurs less frequently. Some of our tissue partners have been working to encourage tissue recipients to write, and we are receiving more tissue recipient letters than ever before. We forward these on to their corresponding donor families unless they declined to have further contact with us.

Writing Your Donor Family
If you are a recipient interested in writing to your donor family, please contact your social worker or nurse coordinator at your transplant center. If you do not have contact with anyone at your transplant center, please email aftercare@dnwest.org or call 925.480.3161 and we can provide you with the appropriate contact information.

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