The Importance of
Writing Your Donor Family

Merry Smith LPN, BS
Donor Family Care Coordinator
Mid-America Transplant Services
1110 Highlands Plaza Drive East, Suite 100
St. Louis, MO 63110
Direct Tel: 314-735-8283
Second Wind of St. Louis
Member of the Board of Advisors

The giving and receiving of gifts has been traditional throughout centuries of civilization. It is only in the last 50 years that one special, final gift has been given and received, the “Gift of Life” through organ and tissue donation. This amazing miracle of medicine has created a unique relationship between the families who make a decision to help another human being and the recipient who receives this precious gift of life.

Donor families and recipients often find comfort and healing in hearing from each other. A simple card, thank you note, or letter can be uplifting to the donor family and reassure them that they made a wonderful decision to help others in the midst of their grief. Writing a brief note to the donor family is a simple act that can provide a strong sense of well-being for the recipient. Recipients may benefit greatly from hearing information about their donor and the donor family. To protect the confidentiality of both the donor family and recipient, all correspondence is initially facilitated through Mid-America Transplant Services (MTS). The decision to communicate with your donor family or loved one’s recipient is a very personal one. If the decision is made to correspond, we ask that you abide by the following guidelines when writing about yourself or your loved one.

· Only first names may be used in the letter and closing signature.
· You may include state of residence, age, job or occupation, hobbies or interests but identities are kept confidential so care must be given not to provide specific identifying information.
· You may include family dynamics, such as marital status, children or grandchildren – again please do not use last names.
· You may include a photo of yourself and loved ones.
· Tell your story and or the story of your loved one. Explain how the experience has changed your life.
· Please do not reveal your address, city, phone number or email address.

What do I need to include with my correspondence so that MTS knows where to send my letter?

On a separate sheet of paper, write your name, your loved one’s name if applicable and the date that the donation or transplant took place. This sheet will be for MTS use only and will not be forwarded with the correspondence. Place the correspondence in an unsealed, unstamped envelope. Enclose the envelope in a mailing envelope. A member of the Donor Family Support Services Staff at MTS will review your card or letter to ensure confidentiality, and will then forward your correspondence.

Where do I mail my correspondence?

Mid-America Transplant Services, Donor Family Support Services, 1110 Highlands Plaza Drive East, Suite 100, St. Louis MO 63110. Correspondence may also be sent to MTS by email with a Microsoft Word attachment to

How will I know if MTS has received my correspondence to be forwarded?

If MTS has your home mailing address or email address, you will receive a letter stating that your correspondence has been received and forwarded.

Will I receive a response to my correspondence?

You may or may not get a response. Some donor families have said that writing about their loved one and their decision to donate helps them in their grieving process. Other donor families, even though they are comfortable with their decision to donate, prefer privacy and choose not to write to the transplant recipients. Most recipients have said that writing to their donor family is the most difficult thing they have ever done. Often feelings of guilt or inadequacy along with fear of causing a donor family more pain inhibit the recipient from being able to express their gratitude.

What is the average length of time from when correspondence is received by MTS to when it is forwarded?

On average, MTS forwards correspondence within three days of receipt. Please allow extra time during the holidays.

When can I release my direct contact information?

Before release of direct contact information, MTS guidelines require that a donor family and recipient first establish a relationship via written correspondence. Typically, this means written correspondence back and forth a minimum of three times before the request to release direct contact information. After a written relationship has been established, either party can request that consent for release of information forms be sent and signed. Direct contact information will be released only when signed release forms are received by both parties.


Contact Donor Family Support Services Staff/Aftercare Program directly at 800-925-3666 or email at