Donor Families and Recipients 

Writing to Donor Families and Recipients

"When Betsy passed away, that was the darkest day of my life. Knowing she saved lives as an organ and tissue donor has been the silver lining in the dark cloud."

Dan Sarnowski - Life Partner of Organ and Tissue Donor, Betsy Niles

Writing to Your Donor Family

Most transplant recipients choose to write to the family of their donor to express their gratitude for their gift of life. Many donor families appreciate a personal note from their loved one's recipient as it provides them with comfort and healing.

By writing a letter, you're letting the donor family know that their loved one's gift has made a difference. It may be difficult to find the right words to express the gratitude you have to your donor family.

Ideas on What to Include in Your Letter

  • Acknowledge your donor family’s loss with expressions of sympathy.
  • Express your gratitude for your donor's gift.
  • Tell the donor family about yourself, your family and your hobbies/interests.
  • Share how this gift has impacted your life.

Remember, the length of the letter does not matter. Speak from your heart, as just a few sentences can make a difference to a family that has experienced the loss of a loved one.

Sending Your Note or Letter

If you are an organ or cornea recipient, you may send a card or letter, or use our online form below. If you are a tissue recipient, please contact us at familyservices@njsharingnework.org for further info. 

To protect the confidentiality of both the donor and recipient, all correspondence is initially facilitated through NJ Sharing Network. You may include first names, but please do not include last names, emails, addresses or phone numbers in your note.

Once your note is written, attach a separate piece of paper with:

  • Your name
  • Address
  • Date of transplant
  • Telephone number
  • Email address

You will be notified by NJ Sharing Network if we receive a response from your donor's family. It is important to understand that you may or may not receive a response. Many donor families have said that they are overwhelmed with emotion and have difficulty expressing their feelings. Others may take several months or even years before they feel comfortable writing their loved one's recipient. 

Please send above to:

NJ Sharing Network
Family Services
691 Central Avenue
New Providence, NJ 07974

For more information, email Family Services or call (908) 516-5411

Writing to Recipients

Writing to the recipients of your loved one’s gifts can be a healing step in the donation process. 

The decision to write to the recipient(s) of your loved one’s gifts is a personal one. Some family members find that sharing information about their loved one helps them in their grief journey. Others may write to ask about the recipient of their loved one’s gifts.

Whatever your reason, the choice is yours.

Here are some tips for writing your first letter:

  • Share the name and age of your loved one. To keep identities protected, you may use first names, but please avoid including last names, addresses or phone numbers.
  • Talk about what they liked to do and what kind of person they were.
  • Tell them why the decision was made to donate.
  • Wish them well on their recovery.
  • If you would like to hear from them, let them know. For example: “Dear Recipient, we would love to hear from you as it helps to know that some good came out of our tragedy.” 

Sending Your Letter

You may send a card or letter, or use our online form below.

To protect the confidentiality of both the donor and recipient, all correspondence is initially facilitated through NJ Sharing Network. Once your letter is written, send it to the address below in an unsealed envelope. Include a separate sheet of paper with your full name and the name of your loved one. 

NJ Sharing Network
Family Services
691 Central Avenue
New Providence, NJ 07974

After the initial contact, you and your loved one's recipients may decide to contact each other directly or schedule a time to meet. Before releasing personal information, NJ Sharing Network requires both the donor family and recipient to sign release forms.

Have questions? 

If the right words seem hard to find, or you have any questions or concerns about writing, please email Family Services or call (908) 516-5411.