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    The Thank You that Heals

    by Patrice Chamberlain

    Transplant recipients are often overwhelmed with how to appropriately thank their donor family. While the fear of acknowledging a bittersweet situation can prevent one from communicating, it is actually this correspondence that can transform the healing process for both donor families and recipients.

    “I strongly encourage all transplant recipients to send their donor family a note of appreciation—it makes such an impact and helps promote organ donation,” says Nikole Neidlinger, M.D., medical director for California Transplant Donor Network (CTDN), the regional organ and tissue recovery agency. Neidlinger has met more than 150 donor
    families and seen first-hand the peace that a thank you note provides. “Donor families routinely want to know about recipients. Organ donation allows their loved one to have a legacy.”

    California Transplant Donor Network Guidelines

    California Pacific’s Kidney Team strongly encourages all transplant recipients to write their donor family and offers the following guidelines from CTDN.

    A thank you card or short letter can be sent at any time.
    The note can include your name or be sent anonymously. It can be as short as “Thank you for your gift of my kidney,” or lengthier. Donor families appreciate learning relevant information such as your age, occupation and hobbies along with how the transplant has impacted your life.

    Send the note to CTDN and they will get it to your donor family.
    Mail your correspondence, along with a note including your name, date of transplant, organ transplanted and hospital where the transplant occurred to:

    California Transplant Donor Network
    1000 Broadway Suite 600
    Oakland, CA 94607

    Communication is channeled through CTDN although direct communication may occur if both parties agree.
    Some donor families find it helpful to write the transplant recipient about their loved one and the family’s decision to donate. Others, however, may be appreciative of a letter from the recipient but may still be dealing with their loss and choose not to respond.

    article from Spring Summer 2011Kidney Review newsletter