Donor Family



Following your liver transplant you may have lots of thoughts about the person who kindly donated such a precious gift, the donor, and also their family. This is quite common after such an operation. 

In the early days after the transplant you will need to recover physically.

You may also feel quite emotional during the first few weeks following your operation as you start adjusting to life with a new liver and medication.

However, you will know if and when the time is right for you to receive details about your donor. It is a very individual process and the Liver Recipient Transplant Coordinators will help you with any queries or concerns.

They can provide you with some anonymous details about your donor.

The details that they are able to give you about your donor are: Age, Sex, Next of kin and an area that they lived, ie Wales, West Midlands, or the South West, etc. Some patients also ask why the donor died, they can provide this information if you want to know. They will only give you the information that you asked for.

Some patients only ever want to know details about the donor and once they have this information they keep it to themselves and their family. Other patients decide that they want to write a few words to the donor’s family.
If you do want to receive details about the donor, contact the coordinators on the day before your clinic appointments and they will endeavour to have the information available at the clinic visit.
                                                                                                 WHAT TO SAY AND WHAT NOT TO SAY

In this first letter it is important that all parties remain anonymous.  You should not include any information that might lead to your identity.   That means you should not include last names, streets or numbers, email addresses names of hospitals and names of physicians and staff.  If there is further correspondence or contact and both parties agree to exchanging identities then and only then is it appropriate to do so.

The safest assumption you can make is that the donor family is still grieving, regardless how much time has passed. Communicating with sensitivity is of utmost importance.

Here are some suggestions of what to include in your letter but remember, it must come from the heart and the words must be yours:
  • Open your letter with “Dear Donor Family”
  • Thank the donor family for their gift
  • Speak about your transplant experience – consider including details surrounding  your wait, the surgery and recovery
  • Elaborate how the transplant has changed your life
  • Use first names only and talk about yourself and your family
  • Mention your occupation and any activities which you once again can now enjoy
If writing to the family is something that you feel you want to do, you do not have to write straight away. You will probably know when it is the best time for you.
For some patients this might be in the first couple of weeks but others may not feel comfortable writing for months. Do not be put off if the best time for you to write is not until a year after the operation, this is fine.
THE LETTER.   (Sample letters below)
Some patients choose to buy a thank you card to write in. Other patients write a letter or a poem.
You can write as much or as little as you feel comfortable with.
Do not write your address, telephone number or surname, as we need to protect confidentially.
You can put the first names of yourself and your family and also the date. You might start the letter by saying hello or dear friends or dear family.
Never make assumptions about the religion, race, or culture of the donor family.
You should write the feelings from your heart and not what you think the family want to hear or things that you have overheard other patients in the clinic say.
When you have written the letter or card, do not seal the envelope or write anything on it. Send it to the coordinators with a covering letter to,  (Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham patients only) or hand it in to the Coordinators.
                                                                                                                     Transplant Coordinators
                                                                                                                     2nd Floor Nuffield House
                                                                                                                    Queen Elizabeth Hospital
                                                                                                                                 B15 2TH
They will then read through the letter and forward it on to the coordinator who is looking after the donor family. Remember, the letter will only be passed onto the donor family when they are ready to receive it, so do not worry that you  may cause distress or upset.
The experience is that the donor families very much appreciate receiving such letters and find it a comfort to know their relative has been able to help others.
Please bear in mind, the donor family may want to reply. You may want to take some time to think about how you would feel if this happens. If you require any further information or just want to talk through aspects of writing to your donor family, then please get in touch with your named coordinator, or any member of the coordinators team.
  1. I will never be able to tell you all the feelings that I have for  your family, but I want you to know how grateful I am, etc.
  2. I would like to thank you for your generosity in giving a part of your loved one to me. I am very sorry for your loss, etc.
  3. I am growing stronger and healthier every day and keep your family in my thoughts and prayers always, etc.
  4. What a blessing you have given me, I keep your family in my thoughts and prayers, etc.
         Thank you for entrusting me with a living legacy from your loved one, I will treasure the gift


  1. Dear Friends,

  2. I have often thought about what I would say to the people who in a time of grief and despair could think of others and donate a loved one’s organs. I received a  ——- I felt that I had to write to you to express my gratitude, it is difficult to find the words to adequately express my feelings. “Thank you” just doesn’t seem enough.

  3. My doctor tells me I was within weeks of total  ——–  failure when I received the ——–  It was a perfect match and has worked perfectly from the moment it was transplanted into me. I haven’t had any trouble, rejection, or sickness since. My health and energy have returned, and I was able to return full time to my job as a ———   ?
    months after the operation.

  4. Besides resuming all my previous activities, I got to enjoy our daughter’s wedding etc. . I have also become a  grandmother with my other daughter and I have you to thank for the health to enjoy this as well as life itself again. 

  5. I thank the Lord each day for you and your decision to donate. I will keep you always in my prayers. May the Lord bless you and your family for your selfless and generous heart.

  6. Thank you for my health and life!

Nurse helping patient clipart

We do not know anything about the donor family but to who ever you are ” we are so thankful that you and your family was thoughtful enough to donate for someone else, like my husband/Wife etc. who can now go on in life.  We cannot thank you enough for what you have done.  Your family is in our prayers and everyday we thank GOD for my —— second chance in life!  We cannot say we know what you are going through in your time of loss, but our heart goes out to you and your family. and we hope that you will receive the blessing knowing that a part of your family is within  ours.  ~we have so much to be thankful for:     My —— just went to our  grandsons 21st (etc.) yesterday and this might not have happened if your family had not made a wonderful decision in life.
Our prayers are with the donor family, and we pray that GOD gives you the strength and comfort to be strong and just keep those special memories close to your hearts, where they belong.
All my family  have now signed  donor cards.

Dear Donor Family,

“Thank You”
These two words seem so inadequate for the gift of life you have given me, you have given me a second chance of life.
I must offer my deepest sympathy for your loss, mere words from a stranger, but heartfelt just the same. Perhaps.
I knew nothing about the donor only that they must have been kind, caring, compassionate and generous, something they had to have learned from you, their family.
I only hope that I am able to justify the use of this wonderful gift.
Not a day goes by without me thinking of the donor and their family who without I would not have had a second chance to live.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart etc.
A grateful recipient.


Dear Donor,
I have been trying to write this letter for —— months now, that was when both our worlds were turned upside down and will never be the same.
But somehow, through your grace and generosity I received the most tremendous gift of all.
I received a ——- on that day from someone unknown to me yet more special than I could ever have known.
To say a mere Thank You on paper seems so insufficient, please know that I think of my donor and pray every day for the gift that I have been given.
I hope that as you read this, you find the smallest bit of comfort in knowing that in your decision to donate has given me my life back again, for which I will be eternally grateful, thank you and god bless you,

A very grateful recipient.


I don’t really know what to say except thank you. I wanted to let you know what a difference your kindness has made to my life.
I am —– years of age and have  —— wonderful children, it is wonderful to watch them grow up, a dream i thought I would never see.
I will never be able to tell you all the feelings that I have for you, but i want you to know how grateful I am for the chance you have given me to continue living a normal life. I would like to thank you for your generosity, words can’t begin to describe how grateful I am to you.
I have grown to appreciate life and I do not take it for granted,
A grateful recipient.


I will never be able to tell you all the feelings that i have for your family, but I wanted you to know how very grateful I am.
I would like to thank you for your generosity in giving a part of your loved one to me.
I am very sorry for your loss.
I am  growing stronger and healthier every day and keep your family in my thoughts and prayers always.
What a blessing you have given me, thank you for entrusting me with a living legacy from your loved one.
I will treasure this gift always.
God bless you,
A very grateful recipient.

Dear Family

May I express my condolences on the loss of your loved one. My thoughts and prayers are with you and will be so for the rest of my life.
My name is ——, I am 49 etc. and I’m married with two grown up children. I have been ill with liver disease for sometime and was told that a liver transplant was the only option.
Since then my condition deteriorated and I was constantly tired and had difficulty walking. I waited ? months for my transplant and I cannot describe the difference it has made to my life and also to the life of my family. The doctors are very pleased with my progress and my life, which was on hold, has started again.
I am aware that it is purely because of your kindness that I have been given a second chance. Out of your grief has come joy for me and my family. To say thank you seem inadequate but I do so from the bottom of my heart. I often think of you and my donor, and you all will always be in the thoughts and prayers of me and my family.
My Thoughts and prayers are with you always
A grateful recipient.


If you would like to contribute your own personal thank you letter to help other liver patients write theirs, then please get in touch. It would be greatly appreciated.

Clipart kindly supplied by medical clipart.

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