Lifeline of Ohio facilitates written correspondence between recipients and donor families and we are dedicated to maintaining confidentiality of both parties, while recognizing the benefits of communication.
Guidelines and Tips for Writing to Organ Recipients
Many times families want to write to the recipients of their loved one’s organs to inquire how the recipient is doing and to share about their loved one. Often, families have found that communicating with recipients can be healing. Lifeline of Ohio is here to support you in any way we can.
Some ideas on what you can include in a letter:
- Only share your first name (do not include your last name, city, home address, or phone number)
- Information about yourself and your loved one (age, interests, hobbies, and/or family information)
- Special memories with your loved one
- Photo of your loved one
- Questions you have for the recipient
- You can send a card, letter, or both.
- On a separate piece of paper, write your full name, the full name of your loved one who was a donor, and the date of their death; this allows us to correctly identify the recipient and forward your correspondence.
- If there is more than one transplant recipient, you can write a separate letter for each recipient or Lifeline of Ohio can copy your letter and forward it to each recipient. If you’d prefer for us to make a copy, please indicate this on the separate piece of paper.
- Send your card or letter Attn: Bereavement Coordinator, Lifeline of Ohio, 770 Kinnear Rd., Columbus, OH 43212
- Any information in your correspondence that might breach confidentiality will be redacted.
- Please communicate in a sensitive manner.
Guidelines and Tips for Writing to Tissue and Cornea Recipients
If your loved one was a tissue donor with our organization, the process is less direct because the transplants can occur months or even years after your loved one’s passing. Tissue recipients are unable to be directly identified unless they write first, but we are able to tell families how many people their loved one was able to heal.
If your loved one was a cornea donor, you may be able to write to the recipient(s); please contact Bereavement Services for more information.
For more information on writing to recipients, please contact Lifeline of Ohio’s Bereavement Coordinators at:
Donor Family and Recipient Direct Communication/Meetings
Lifeline of Ohio is often asked if individuals can have direct communication* or meet with their donor’s family or recipients. Not all families choose to do this, but if they do, it can help in the healing process. In the event that the both the donor family and the recipients have shared written correspondence and have expressed either their desire to have direct communication or to meet, then Lifeline of Ohio can help facilitate this process.
Criteria for direct communication/meeting:
- Both donor families/recipients must have written to each other at least one time.
- If there is a desire for direct communication or meeting, this must be stated in a correspondence to the other party. Once this has occurred, both the donor family and recipient must sign a release of information and return it to Lifeline of Ohio.
Once the above criteria has been met, Lifeline of Ohio’s Bereavement Coordinators will work with both parties in sharing contact information and/or arranging a meeting. If a mutual decision is made to meet in person, we encourage you to allow Lifeline of Ohio to host this first meeting at our office.
*Direct communication is when both parties receive each other’s contact information and communicate on their own without Lifeline of Ohio’s involvement.
Below is a list of considerations to be aware of prior to communicating directly and/or meeting:
- You have the opportunity to hear or see how your loved one’s gift has made a difference.
- The recipient may ask personal questions about your loved one, you, or your family.
- The recipient has undergone a major surgery and they may appear ill, need further treatment or require another transplant during their lifetime.
- You will have the opportunity to express your empathy for their loss, as well as your gratitude for the gift you received and the impact it’s made on your life.
- Your donor’s family may ask personal questions about your illness, surgery, and lifestyle.
- Your donor’s family may still be feeling the pain of their loss and display strong emotions.
- Donor families and recipients may have differing beliefs or cultural norms. We encourage both parties to maintain respectful communication.
- You may have a different expectation on the amount of contact within the relationship. Additionally, either party may decide to stop communication at any time.
- The donor family or recipient may change their minds and feel they are not ready to meet.
- In the event that both parties choose to meet, it’s important to put expectations aside, as these encounters will look different from meeting to meeting. Please keep an open mind.
For more information, please contact Lifeline of Ohio’s Bereavement Coordinators at: