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 I know 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, that 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. I told them that although I am cautious over my health, and my new kidney is precious, it’s also going to be well-used. I believe that anything less than this would be a waste.
Once this letter is passed onto their donor family liaison team, I may well never find out what happened to it. I would absolutely love to hear from them, and I’ve told them this, but I also have to be ok with the alternative, and I am. In my mind, 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.