Writing to Recipients & Their Families

When your loved one became a donor, he or she also became a hero to those that received the gift of life. Your loved one lives on in the recipient(s) and you now share a special connection with them.

You have the opportunity to share your loved one's legacy by writing to the recipients. The decision to write is a very personal choice and Nebraska Organ Recovery encourages donor families and transplant recipients to write only if and when they feel ready.

Please know that you do not need to wait until you hear from the recipient before you write, and that you may make the initial contact. You may also include letters from other members of your family with your letter.


The intention of donor and recipient correspondence is to provide suppport to families experiencing the grieving process and to allow recipients to express their gratitude to donor families. We are encouraged by the potential emotionally healing benefits of correspon­dence, but careful to protect the confidentiality of those who wish not to participate. Therefore, we initially limit correspondence to an anonymous format.

Identities are kept confidential until both the donor's family and the recipient agree to release personal information about themselves and are willing to accept personal information about the other.

Writing the Letter

You may choose to send a greeting card, personal letter, or photos. Whatever method you choose, please consider the following suggestions as a guide to help with your correspondence.

Greeting the Recipient
  • Address the letter "Dear Recipient"
  • If you decide not to include your first name, simply close the letter with "Donor's Spouse," "Donor's Daughter," etc.
What to Include
  • The age and gender of your loved one
  • Information about your loved one's family—marital status, children or grandchildren
  • Your loved one's job or occupation (do not mention his or her employer), hobbies or interests
  • If you are open to future correspondence from the recipient
Do Not Include:
  • Any last names (yours or your loved one's)
  • Location information
  • Contact information
  • Any reference to Nebraska or Nebraska Organ Recovery

If any of this information is included, it will be removed.

Other Considerations

You may include a photo with your letter. Make sure the photo does not include identifiable information which might be included on clothing, license plates, signs, etc.

Since the religion of the recipient is unknown, please consider the appropriate use of religious comments.

Sending Your Letter

When ready to send your letter, please follow these steps:

  1. Place your card or letter in an unsealed blank envelope. Do not place a stamp or write your return address or your full name on this envelope.
  2. Place a separate piece of paper with the donors' full name, and your full name, in the unsealed envelope.
  3. Place the unsealed envelope into another envelope addressed to:

Nebraska Organ Recovery
8502 West Center Road
Omaha, NE 68124

Allow extra time for review and forwarding of your correspondence. A Nebraska Organ Recovery staff member will review your letter to ensure confidentiality guidelines have been observed. Next, it is mailed to the recipient's transplant center and forwarded to the recipient from there.

What to Expect from the Recipeint

Every recipient's story is different and their response to receiving your loved one's gift of life will be unique to them as well.

Most transplant recipients have said that they are over­whelmed with emotion and have difficulty expressing their gratitude in words.The recipients will normally say that writing to their donor family is the most difficult thing they have ever done. Some recipients feel guilty because they are still alive, but the donor is not. While the recipients are grateful for the gift, they are afraid their correspondence might cause the donor family pain by bringing back memories of the donor.

Some recipients may take several months or even years before they feel comfortable writing to their donor family. Some recipients never write.

Need Help?

We will gladly help answer any questions you may have about writing to recipients. Please call Nebraska Organ Recovery any time at 402-733-1800.