The Decision to Write
As an organ transplant donor family, you have suffered a loss and been a part of giving a wonderful gift to someone you don’t know. Deciding to write to the recipient(s) is a personal choice that you may find helps you with your grieving and finding closure. You may send a letter or you may feel more comfortable sending a simple card. A letter from a donor’s family may encourage a recipient to write, knowing that the family is ready and willing to receive correspondence.
Maintaining confidentiality—yours and the recipient’s
All correspondence is anonymous. The identities of the recipient, the donor and both their families are kept confidential out of respect for everyone’s right to personal privacy. For this reason, information that could lead to your identity is not allowed by any donor or transplant program within Canada. Such information includes, but is not limited to:
- First or last names (this includes names of family members)
- Addresses or telephone numbers
- Exact ages—instead you may refer generally to life stages such as child, young adult, middle-aged, etc.
- Locations—this includes specific hospitals, cities and provinces
Even without a name, your message could be one of the most powerful and meaningful messages a recipient could ever receive
Where do I begin?
Include what you feel comfortable telling the donor’s family about your loved one. People care about your experience. You may find the following suggestions helpful:
- Use simple language
- Talk about your loved one’s hobbies and interests
- Share the reasons you and your loved one believed in the importance of organ donation, and share your thoughts and feelings about organ donation
- Be considerate in that the recipient may have different spiritual beliefs from you
- Sign your letter anonymously, i.e., “The Donor Family”.
When should I write?
There is no time limit—you can do it whenever you are ready. Suggestions are:
- On the anniversary date of the loss of your loved one
- At the time of any other important milestone in your life
Where do I send my letter?
Place your card or letter in an unsealed envelope. On a separate piece of paper, write your full name, the date of your transplant and your telephone number. Place both in a second, sealed envelope and give it to a nurse in the Transplant Clinic. You may also mail the envelope directly to the Transplant Manitoba-Gift of Life Program.
GE441 - Health Sciences Centre
820 Sherbrook Street
Winnipeg, MB R3A 1R9
A donor coordinator will review your card or letter to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for both you and the recipient(s). You will be contacted if changes are necessary.
The Transplant Manitoba-Gift of Life Program forwards each letter to the appropriate provincial donor program, that in turn forwards it to the recipient(s). Please allow several weeks for this process to be completed.
Will I hear back from the recipient(s)?
Many recipients are overwhelmed with emotion and may have difficulty expressing their gratitude. Some may respond to your letter, while others may make the choice not to write.
Having trouble or need advice?
If the right words seem hard to find, or you have any questions or concerns about writing, please contact Transplant Manitoba-Gift of Life and we would be happy to help.