The most important thing I’ve ever done; Dear Donor Family

The card I made for the family of my donor.
What do you say, when you don’t know what to say?

A few weeks ago, I did one of the most important things I probably ever will. I wrote to the family of my donor.

Due to NHS regulations here in the UK, I know virtually nothing about my donor or his family. I know his gender, obviously, and that he was “middle-aged” and healthy enough to donate. Beyond that, he is anonymous.

I presume his family know equally little about me. Probably only that I’m a woman in my late twenties who used to be on dialysis and who now, thanks to them, has a functioning transplant and can move forward with her life.

I’m not going to share the letter here, it is private, but I will say that it was strange because although on one hand, it was very difficult to know what on earth I could ever say that was “right”, on the other hand, once I sat down and put pen to paper, the words were there. I think in situations like this, there isn’t a “wrong way”. No two donor family letters will ever be the same, and nor should they be.

As I was writing, I didn’t think about me. I thought about them, and about how I could use this opportunity to tell them things I wanted them to know about the way what they did has changed my life. I wanted them to know that even though it’s been less than a year since my transplant, my life is already completely different. Although I am cautious over my health, and my new kidney is precious, it’s also going to be well-used. Anything less than this would be a waste.

Once the letter is passed on to their donor family liaison team, I might never find out what happened to it. I’d love to hear from them, and I’ve told them this, but I’m also ok with the alternative. It’s enough to know I’ve told them that I think of their family, and of my donor, every day. I hope I can do something in my life that honours his. Watch this space.

EDIT: There’s now a Part 2 to this.

nothing that ends in a gift ends in nothing.

6 Comment

    1. You’re welcome. I hope my having written about writing to them being difficult but not impossible encourages more recipients to do the same.

  1. Thank you for sharing with 9yrs post but because i had other major health problems ie..cancer and fliud on the brain .i havent written to my donors family but hoping to on my 10 yr

    1. You’re welcome! I’m so sorry to hear of your other health issues, I imagine that must be very difficult. Yes, you should definitely write to your donor’s family if you want to. I’m sure they would love to hear any update from you, even if it’s just that you still think about them ten years later. 🙂

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