Today is the inaugural DonateLife Thank You Day…a national day to acknowledge organ and tissue donors and families that agreed to donation.
We know first hand just how amazing and life changing organ donation is…my husband received a donor liver approx 1240 days ago…that’s 1240 extra days that he would not have had if he hadn’t received a new liver in time.
We have met many people along our journey whose lives have also been not only saved, but immeasurably changed through organ donation!
And a day such as this highlights the crucial role families have in the donation process…they are ones who are asked to confirm the donation decision of their loved one and provide vital health information.
We wrote to the donor family about 6 months after my husband had his transplant…it was one of the most difficult letters to write.
On one hand, you want to share how wonderful our lives were now that my husband had regained his health…while keeping in mind that the donor family had lost one of their own, and were grieving.
But most importantly, you want to say thank you…thank you for giving permission for organ and tissue donation.
In a recent study*, approximately 68% of families received anonymous correspondence from at least one transplant recipient, which provided great comfort to these family members
Some transplant recipients just find it impossible to write a letter to their donor family…they are at a loss at what to say…some even don’t feel worthy or feel that they have not achieved anything since transplant.
But for us, saying thank you to my husband’s donor family was very important…because of their decision to allow organ donation, my husband and maybe 10 or more others, were able to return to living life again.
And we were honored to receive a letter back from the donor’s partner…any identifying details are kept private by law, but the letter shared a bit about the sort of person my husband’s donor was.
It really was like receiving correspondence from the flip side!
We will write again soon to let them know that my husband is doing really well since transplant and to thank them again for allowing organ donation and giving us the most precious gift…the gift of life.
*National Study of Family Experiences of OTD, Wave 1 – 2010 and 2011 (released Sept 2014)