The decision to write to your loved one’s recipients is one that is deeply personal and follows no expected timeline. Many families choose to reach out to recipients to let them know about the person who gave the heroic and life-saving gift. Some families find that sharing stories with those who are so deeply connected with their loved one brings them comfort and healing on their grief journey.
Recipients are often genuinely interested in learning about your loved one. After all, your loved one has made a profound impact on their life and the lives of their family members. Many recipients have shared that communicating with the family of their donor has given them an even deeper understanding and appreciation for their life-saving gift.
Tennessee Donor Services can assist you in writing a letter to your loved one’s recipient. In this letter, you can share what made your loved one special, their hobbies & interests, any special memories, and more about the decision to donate. We ask that you use only first names and exclude any sensitive information (address, phone number, email address).
Once you’re ready to mail your letter, please place your correspondence in an unsealed, unstamped mailing envelope. On a separate piece of paper, include your full name, address, phone number, your loved one’s full name and the date of their donation. This information is kept solely for our records. Place these items in another envelope and mail them to our address noted below:
Upon receiving your correspondence, TDS will review the letter for guideline adherence. Your letter will then be forwarded to the appropriate transplant center, and they will ensure the recipients receive your correspondence. If the recipients choose to write back, the process outlined above happens in reverse, and we will contact you if we receive a letter. Please keep in mind this correspondence process can take several months to complete.
Just as making the decision to reach out to your loved one’s recipients was an emotional journey, it is similar with recipients as they process through the emotions your letter may stir in them. Most recipients choose to write back and some take longer than others to find the words and put them on paper. If they choose not to write at this time, there may be many reasons why. Often recipients are overcome by survivor’s guilt and struggle to find the words to express how they feel.
Families often ask about having the opportunity to meet their loved one’s recipients. This is an option to explore after there has been written correspondence by both parties. Once both parties have expressed an interest in meeting each other and sharing contact information, we will send a release form for you to complete and return. The release form will then be sent to the transplant center.