Writing to a Recipient

Deciding to Write

The decision to write to transplant recipients is very personal and should be given careful consideration. Correspondence can be initiated by either the recipient or donor family. Some donor families find the decision to write recipients and share a bit about their loved one and themselves to be a positive step along their grief journey.

Safeguarding the privacy of donor families and recipients is extremely important to Iowa Donor Network (IDN). For this reason, IDN has practices in place to ensure all initial correspondence between parties remains anonymous and confidential. IDN encourages healthy, written correspondence for a period of time. After that, if and when both parties wish to disclose their identities, IDN can help facilitate that next step in communication.

For some families, getting started is the hardest part. If you want to write but need assistance doing so, please contact a member of IDN’s Donor Family Care team toll-free at 855-431-9844.


Writing Your Letter


Talk About…

The Donation Experience
  • Briefly explain the circumstances that led your loved one to become a donor
  • Do not reveal the name or location of the hospital where your loved one became a donor
Your Loved One
  • Include your loved one’s first name only 
  • Share your loved one’s hobbies or interests 
  • Share your loved one’s family situation, such as marital status, children and/or grandchildren, and your relationship to the donor (share first names only
In Closing…
  • Sign your first name only
  • Do not reveal your address, city, state or phone number


Things to Consider

  • Be brief (1 page recommendation) 
  • Use simple language
  • The religion of the recipient(s) is unknown and may differ from your own so please consider this if you are thinking of including religious comments 
  • Use the same letter or individualized letters if there is more than 1 recipient


Mailing Your Letter

Place your letter in an unsealed, unstamped envelope. On a separate piece of paper write your loved one’s name and the date of donation.
Place the above enclosures inside a larger envelope and mail it to:
Iowa Donor Network
Donor Family Care
320 Adventureland Drive NW
Altoona, IA 50009

Upon receipt of your letter, a Donor Family Specialist will review the letter to ensure confidentiality. IDN will forward your letter onto the recipient’s transplant center which will in turn forward the letter to the recipient(s). Since your letter will be forwarded several times, please allow extra time for it to reach your loved one’s recipient(s).


Will the Recipient(s) Write Back?

Many recipients have shared that writing to their donor’s family is the most difficult thing they have ever done. Recipients often express feelings of guilt over the fact that the gift they received would not have been possible but for the death of another. While recipients are grateful for the gift and want to convey that to their donor’s family, some may be reluctant to do so for fear of causing pain to the donor’s grieving family.

Remember, as you look toward corresponding with your loved one’s recipient(s) that they too are experiencing their own set of emotions related to your loved one’s death, in addition to health adversities which led to their need for a transplant.  

You may or may not hear back from a recipient. Some donor families hear from their loved one’s recipient(s) one time, while others continue to correspond on an on-going basis. Some recipients write back quickly, while others may take years to respond. These possibilities should all be considered as potential outcomes when making your decision whether or not to write.  

Our Vision:

All are inspired to donate life.