I’m so curious to know who my donor was. Was the donor a male or a female? How old was s/he? Where did s/he live? Mentally it’s so strange that someone else’s parts are in my body. I am and will forever be thankful that the person chose to be an organ donor and saved my life.
If I want to contact the donor’s family there is a specific process. I would give my social worker the letter/card and she would then forward it to the California Transplant Donor Network (CTDN), an organization that works with United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) for Northern and Central California and Northern Nevada. CTDN would then contact the donor family and ask if they would be willing to receive correspondence from the organ recipient. If the donor family gives permission, CTDN forwards my letter/card to them. The donor family has no obligation to respond. If they choose to respond they send it to CTDN and then it gets forwarded to my social worker who then passes it to me. The same goes the other way around if the donor family wanted to contact me.
My sister went to the transplant support group at UCSF a few weeks ago and there was a guy there who wrote his donor family 2 years after his transplant and got a response back 3 years later. It must be so hard for the donor family to receive correspondence when they’re grieving the loss of their loved one.
One day I hope to work up enough gumption to write my donor family, and I hope they will be open to receiving communication. It’s definitely too soon now, but perhaps 5 years down the line.