Can I contact my donor’s family?
It is your decision if you would like to send a message to your donor family.
We will not give out anything more than basic information without your agreement. Protecting the anonymity of both the donor and transplant recipient is of the greatest importance.
Our specialist nurses will care for you during the time of donation and when a transplant takes place. They are your family’s contact point for any questions and concerns.
At the time of donation, our nurses will talk to the donor family about whether they would like any communication with the recipient and their family.
When a transplant takes place, our nurses will also talk to the recipient about whether they would like to communicate with the donor family.
If both parties would like to communicate, our nurses and records staff act as a central contact point between the families.
The transplant recipient will only be told the following details about the donor:
- Age range
- Type of death (such as physical injury or stroke)
- Whether there is any risk of a donor’s health condition being passed to the recipient.
We do not give information like name, occupation, date of birth or ethnicity. We also do not give details about the place of donation, or any sexual, alcohol or drug history.
Where specific information is required by the recipient (such as smoking history), that information may be given if the information is relevant to the outcome and the donor’s confidentiality is maintained.
We know that donor families are hugely comforted by receiving a thank you message from the recipient whose life has been saved as the result of a decision made at a very difficult time.
We do not provide direct contact details between donor families and recipients, but we do coordinate messages between them.
Transplant recipients may wish to write a letter of thanks to their donor family once they feel ready to do so post-transplant. Our transplant team will discuss this with you before the transplant takes place and again afterwards.
There are many individual reasons why some recipients don’t feel they can ever write. If you would like to, please watch our video explaining what to do and what not to do when writing to your donor family.
Write your message, email attachment, letter or card taking care not to include any information that will individually identify you.
On a separate letter, or in the body of your email, write down:
- your full name;
- your date of birth;
- your transplant date and the type of transplant;
- the name of the hospital where your transplant took place.
Pass this all to your transplant coordinator or send directly to the Donor Record Department at the postal or email address below.
Your message will be read and any information that might identify you is removed.
The Donor Records department will keep a copy of your message.
The department will make the family aware that a letter/message is waiting for them.
If they choose to receive it, it is then forwarded on to be opened at their discretion.
We have created a guide on how to start a letter to your donor’s family.
Our guide covers:
- Where to start
- What to include
- How to say ‘thank you’
- Receiving a letter from a donor family
- Publicising a transplant
Sharing your story on social media can lead to receiving unexpected attention from strangers. If you have any concerns, speak to your transplant coordinator for guidance.
The NHS Organ Donation social channels contain lots of positive and moving stories from a community of donor families, transplant recipients and those waiting for transplants.
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