SAY THANK YOU

Our Say Thank You campaign has been created to recognise that recipients of donated organs are unable to thank their donors in person for the incredible legacy that they leave.

Although recipients may never meet their donors, there is still an opportunity to express thanks for the life and opportunities that their gift has made possible as the donor families have also played a large part in this process.  

We would like to encourage recipients of organ donation to write to their donor families to thank them for their gift of life and have added some helpful guidelines below.  We have also created some sensitively designed cards for this purpose which will soon be available from your UK transplant centre.


SAYING THANK YOU …  WHERE TO START

Tips for writing a thank you letter to your donor

1.  Be informal: Introduce yourself but keep the tone light as if writing to a friend.  After all, even though you’ve never met, they’ve given you an extraordinary gift!

2.  Say thank you… to your donor and for life!  Write a list of the things you love – for inspiration watch our short film: https://vimeo.com/260272654.

3.  Share the positives: Relate back how life has been since your operation; talk about any small victories that were once challenges or share a memorable story.

4.  Look to the future: Share plans you have for the future and the things you hope to achieve as part of your recovery.

5.  Remember them: If it’s been a long time since your procedure, consider a memorial gesture to your donor and tell them about it in your letter - like planting a tree or walking to a place of significance to mark your journey.

Here’s how a letter could flow:

Dear [donor]

1.  I am … [tell them who you are].

2.  I’m writing to thank you for the incredible gift that you’ve given me … [tell the donor what that was and how you feel about them and the choice their family made].

3.  Without you I would not be here, enjoying … [insert the things that you love doing].

4.  Before the transplant I was … [reflect on how life was prior to receiving the transplant].

5.  Now, I’m able to … [contrast your life pre-transplant, focus on the positives and what your plans are for the future].

[Sign off with a big thank you!]

Sample letter:

To my donor

My name is Lucy and I’m writing to thank you for your incredible gift.  Although we’ve never met, you are in my heart and mind every day.  I will never cease to be grateful to you and the bravery of your family who chose to help someone else live when your life came to an end.  Without you I wouldn’t be here, appreciating simple things like being able to dress myself again, standing to make toast for my family in the morning, enjoying a walk – unaided – through the woods with the people I love by my side.

Before the operation, I’d been waiting for a lung transplant for three years and death was always around the corner.  I needed constant care.  This year, I’m about to travel abroad on holiday – something that I have never done, nor ever imagined I could.  We’re travelling to the South of France and I’m so excited about seeing the châteaus and dipping my toes in a sea that’s warmer than the one here!

To think about someone else living on when you no longer can is an incredible act of selflessness and love.  I frequently share the story of my transplant and tell others about the amazing gift you have given me in the hope that they will be inspired to leave a similar legacy.

You are -  and will always be - my hero and inspiration.

With love and thanks always.

Lucy


Tips for writing a thank you letter to your donor’s family

1.  Be kind: Introduce yourself, recognise their grief and let them know your thoughts are with them and your donor.

2.  Say thank you: Thank them for their brave decision and relate how thankful you are for life and its many gifts.  For inspiration watch our short film: https://vimeo.com/260272654.

3.  Share the positives: Talk about all the good things you’ve achieved since your operation and what their decision has enabled you to do.

4.  Look to the future: Share any plans or goals.

5.  Remember them: To create a fresh reason for writing after a long period, consider marking your thanks with a memorial gesture to them and your donor and tell them about it.

Here’s how a letter could flow:

To the family of my donor

1.  I am… [introduce yourself].

2.  I’m writing to thank you for the amazing gift I received and the incredible choice you made at what must have been a very difficult time.  [Tell them what this gift was and what it means to you].

3.  You have been in my heart and mind throughout my recovery as I begin to do things I never thought I would be able to do, like … [contrast life pre-procedure with the positive things you’re able to do now].

4.  Before the transplant I was … [reflect on how life and your health was prior to receiving the transplant and contrast with future plans].

5.  Tell them you think about your donor, then finish the letter with a positive comment.

[Sign off with a big thank you!]

Sample letter:

Dear donor family

My name is Jon, I’m 38 and have a wife and six-year-old son.

I am writing to thank you for the amazing gift that I received and the incredible choice you made at what must have been a sad and difficult time.  It’s been three years since my kidney transplant and in that time my health has improved so much -  and it’s all thanks to you.

Back in January 2015, after two years of dialysis, I received a kidney from a person I’d never met, and it was the most incredible gift I’ve ever received.  It was because of them - and you, their family - that I was able to start living again: I became someone who could run around with my son and lead a normal life.

I never stop thinking about the fact that this wouldn’t have happened if my donor had not slipped away: that I am here and they are not must be a difficult thing for you to bear.  I know that I can’t ever make that better for you, but I want you to know that the gratitude I feel is unsurpassable.  I think about my donor every day; I imagine who they were and what they were like.  I think about the day they decided to be a donor and wonder what inspired them to make that choice; I consider how they can’t possibly have imagined how, at that moment, they had just saved someone’s life; that they’d made sure someone’s dad was still there for them.  It was an act of such kindness and selflessness; I wish I had been at their side to hug them and thank them.

This is also a letter of thanks to you because, at the very end, you were brave enough to let donation happen.  I cannot imagine what you must have been going through, but I want you to know that I am eternally grateful, as are my wife and son.  To my family, you are all heroes.  Last week we planted an apple tree in the garden as a testament to all of you who enabled me to live again.

I also want you to know that you have been an inspiration to me and I’ve made it a mission to share my story and the positives of donation with anyone I can.  I believe that if we all choose to donate, then everyone in the world could benefit. 

With love and thanks always.

Jon