How to Thank Your Donor

Sometimes, transplant recipients choose to write to their donor family to express their gratitude. In response, many donor families have said that correspondence with recipients offers them comfort and consolation. The decision to write your donor family is a personal choice, but in writing, you can often help families cope with the loss of their loved one.

BC Transplant (BCT) would like to provide transplant recipients with information that will help in composing letters of thanks. The BC Human Tissue Gift Act requires that the identity of both the donor and the recipient be kept confidential. For this reason, we ask that you do not include any identifying personal information in your letter, such as your name or where you live.

If you decide to initiate correspondence with your donor family, you may send a greeting card or letter. Included below are some guidelines and general information that may help you with your letter writing:

PROVIDE GENERAL INFORMATION

• Gender and life stage (ie: child, teen, middle aged etc.) 
• Hobbies or interests
• Family situation such as marital status, children, grandchildren (Please do NOT include names)
• Since the religion of the donor family is unknown, please consider this if you are including religious comments
• Do NOT include the name of the city in which you live

CLOSING YOUR CARD OR LETTER

• Sign your card or letter "a grateful recipient" only
• Do NOT reveal your address, city or telephone number
• Do NOT reveal the name of the hospital in which you received your transplant

MAILING YOUR CARD OR LETTER

Place your card or letter in an unsealed envelope. Include on a separate piece of
paper:

Your full name and date of transplant
Please mail both documents in a sealed envelope to :

BC Transplant
Att: ODHD
West Tower, Suite 350
555 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 3X7

You could also email us your letter at donorfamily@bct.phsa.ca

Sample Letter

This letter was written by a grateful recipient
Dear Donor Family,

" Thank You" these two words seem so
inadequate for the gift of life you have
given to me.

You have given me a second chance to
live and many tomorrows. I will be able to
see the sun rise and set, feel the rain and
sun on my face, hear the wind in the trees,
and listen to the birds sing. I will be able
to hug and be hugged.

I must offer my deepest sympathy for
your loss, mere words from a stranger, but
heartfelt just the same. Perhaps, in your
generous donation your family and mine
will be able to "Celebrate the Life" of loved
ones both past and present.

I know nothing about the donor only
that they must have been kind, caring,
compassionate, and generous, something
they had to have learned from you, their
family.

I feel that each new day has endless
possibilities, and that my horizons are
without bounds. I only hope that I am able
to justify the use of this wonderful gift.

I could make you promises of what I
would do to make our world a better place,
but we all know that promises tend to be
broken and time can cause us to forget,
but know this, not a day, not an hour, or a
minute will go by without my thinking of
the donor and their family who without I
would not have had a chance to live.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
The recipient

WILL I HEAR FROM THE DONOR FAMILY?

You may or may not receive a response from your donor family. Some families may respond to your letter immediately, while others may prefer privacy and choose not to write to the recipients. Remember the donor family may still be coping with the loss of their loved one, and people manage grief in different ways. While you may be celebrating the anniversary of receiving your transplant, it is also the anniversary of someone else's loss. Please communicate in a sensitive manner.
With this said, many donor families have said that correspondence with recipients offers them comfort, consolation, and often closure. Despite their loss, many families look forward to a letter or note from the recipients.

HAVING DIFFICULTIES OR NEED SOME ADVICE?

The donor family support program will review the card or letter to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for both you and the donor family, before sending it on to the family. Each letter is forwarded from BCT, therefore, there may be a slight delay before your letter reaches the donor family. We make every effort to get letters out as soon as we receive them. If you are having any difficulties in writing your letter, or have any questions, please contact BC Transplant at 604-877-2240 or toll free at 1-800-663-6189 and ask to speak with our staff in the donor family support program. They will be happy to assist you.