Writing to a Recipient | Iowa Donor Network

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 pri­or to meet­ing in per­son. 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 8554319844.


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. 

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All are inspired to donate life.