Communication with a donor’s family:
New England Organ Bank supports the families who selflessly enable organ and tissue donation to occur after the death of their loved one. It may help you to know that time and again they express appreciation for the letters they receive from recipients and recipient families. A simple thank you note or card from you or a member of your family can bring great comfort to a grieving donor family. Your words can help them to know that their loved one’s gift has made a difference and is appreciated.
New England Organ Bank facilitates written correspondence between transplant recipients and donor family. All communication is completely anonymous and identities are kept confidential.
If you wish to write to your donor’s family:
Please address your letter to “Donor Family.”
Identify yourself by your first name only, and/or by the organ(s) or tissue(s) you received.
Place your card or letter in an unsealed envelope.
On a separate sheet of paper, please write your full name, transplant hospital, and the date of your transplant. This information will not be forwarded to the donor family. Mail both pieces to New England Organ Bank or to your transplant coordinator.
Your card or letter will be reviewed to ensure confidentiality (information that may breach confidentiality may be blackened out), and will then be forwarded to the donor family. Since your card or letter must first be sent to New England Organ Bank and then forwarded, it may take several weeks for the donor family to receive your letter. This is important to note if you want to send a card or letter in time for a specific holiday or anniversary date.
Information you may want to include:
• Information about yourself—your job or occupation; your family (spouse, children, grandchildren, etc.); your hobbies or interests, etc.
• Information about your transplant experience—use simple language in describing the condition that led you to your need for a transplant; explain how the transplant has improved or changed your life; recognize the role of the donor’s family and thank them for the gift.
• What has happened in your life since your transplant? Share activities you are able to do now that you are healthy; celebrations in your family such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births; returning to school or work; your dreams for the future.
• Since the religion of the donor’s family is unknown, please consider this when making religious comments.
Closing your card or letter:
Sign with your first name only and the organ(s) and/or tissue(s) you received. Do not reveal your last name, address, city, phone number, email address, transplant center, or social media information.
Can you expect to hear back from the donor family?
You may or may not hear from your donor family. Like you, their decision to write is a very personal one. Some families have said that writing about their loved one and the decision to donate helps them through the grieving process. Others are simply grateful to know that the recipients are doing well and choose to maintain their privacy.
Can I have direct contact with my donor’s family?
If the shared desire of both the donor family and recipient is to meet, New England Organ Bank will help to facilitate that process.
Several steps must be met for a donor family and recipient to meet:
• Written communication between both parties (notes, letters, or cards)
• Written notice must be given to an Aftercare Coordinator at New England Organ Bank stating that you want to meet the donor family
• Both donor family and recipient agree that they are open to the request
• Sign a general release of confidentiality and return it to New England Organ Bank
If you have questions about having contact with your donor family, please feel free to call an Aftercare Coordinator at 1-781-373-7945 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.