Letter to donors family: I had a... - British Liver Trust

British Liver Trust

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Letter to donors family


I had a transplant last October. I am eternally grateful to receive this gift but also feel deep sorrow for the donor family.

From day 1 I have intended writing a letter to the family expressing my gratitude and telling them I am so sorry for their loss.

I am very disappointed that after 8 months I still have not written it. I know how I feel but just cannot put it in writing.

I have an appointment in Kings in a few weeks and I am determined to have one ready then.

Am I alone finding this so difficult?

Best wishes


7 Replies

Hi Paul

Over here in France you are not able to send a letter. There is no contact, even anonymous. I do not know the age or sex of my donor or anything about them. Next wk I’ll be celebrating 1 yr. The family will be marking their loss. It’s a strange feeling.

I’m sure you’ll find the words. They were very gracious letting their loved one’s organs be of use to others when all they wanted was their beloved back.

Isabelle xx

Hi Paul don't put so much pressure on yourself ... I am 18 months and from day one I have written a bit and thought I going to send it then wrote more etc etc... The thing is I keep saying when things have settled then I will send but will they ever ...

I know a time will come when I ready to handle either the disappointment of not receiving anything back or the shock of hearing back and not being able to handle ...

In your own time x

Hi, yes it really is a hard one and also what to say in it. It took me a long time of thinking what and how to say how very grateful we are. But how does one put in words gratitude that one feels within oneself that when we talk no words can describe the gratitude we feel to our donor their family and the medical staff and system. One day the day just feels very right, as it did for me, and the feelings and thoughts just transfer to paper. Not to long, not to short, but still think what I felt was the best of my feelings and thoughts was put down. The day to actually write will just feel right that day.

The team at the hospital will help you by showing you example letters. My partner is nearly 2 years post TX. We wrote (in a card) shortly after the op & then again on the 1 year anniversary. The staff will read the letter first to make sure it's appropriate & then send it. We unfortunately haven't heard anything back but that is the family's prerogative & we respect that. We will be writing again next month on the 2 year anniversary . xx

Hi Paul,

I struggle with this myself. Now 11 months post op, I think about this just about every day. In my case, the transplant coordinators discourage you from writing letters for the first 6 months post op. It's a difficult one, the donor's family is adjusting to life without their loved one and hopefully the pain has dulled. A letter comes in and you don't know how it will be received. Will they be happy to hear of the gift of life their loved one provided or will you reawaken their repressed grief and perhaps they may even resent the fact you survived and their loved one did not. To be honest I do not know what to do. I will be for ever grateful. They might think I am ungrateful because I haven't sent a letter, on the other hand.............

Hiya Paulwil 👋 that's a lovely thing to do and believe me it really helps.x

We lost a family member a few years ago and at the time although immensely heart breaking to make the desicion to donate his organs we will always be glad we did.

We received letters from the families that he helped 💕 they was the most beautiful/emotional/heartbreakthing things that we read, knowing that he helped so many & that they took time to let us know was so comforting ❤

What I'm saying to you is there's no time limit & no right or wrong.

Just write from your heart whenever you're ready xx

Take care, Lisa👍

Paulwil in reply to Miss_fab

Thank you Lisa

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