Every year in BC, many families make the ultimate gift: the gift of life. Although this gift is much appreciated by transplant recipients, there are many complex emotions involved when a loved one becomes an organ donor.
BC offers resources to help families cope with grief and mourning, and move toward healing. A list of these support resources is included in our Donor Family Support Guide.
Each year BC Transplant honours the memory of deceased organ donors at a special ceremony for donor family members. The ceremony offers families a chance to connect with others who have had a similar experience, and to hear from those who have had their lives changed through organ donation. Each donor's family is presented with a medal honouring their loved one's gift of life.
Some donor families wish to write to the transplant recipients of their loved one's organs and tissues. The decision to write to the transplant recipients is a personal choice, but many feel it helps with the grieving process.
The BC Human Tissue Gift Act
requires that the identity of both the donor and the recipient be kept confidential. For this reason, we ask that you do not include identifying personal information, such as your names, where you live, or where you work. Feel free to send a card, a simple handwritten note or typed letter.
Below is some information that may help if you choose to write to your recipients.
In order to keep identities confidential, here are some guidelines of personal information that can be included in your letter:
- Gender and life stage (i.e. child, teen, middle-aged etc.) of your loved one.
- Favourite pastimes, hobbies or interests
- Family situation of your loved one such as marital status, children, grandchildren (Note: please do not include names)
- Religious comments: If you would like to include religious comments, please consider the fact that you do not know the religion of the transplant recipient
- Please do not include the name of the city in which you live
- Please do not include that you would like to meet the recipient someday, as BC Transplant has a process for facilitating this (see 'Meeting recipients/donors' section below)
In closing your letter or card, please simply sign your card or letter "the donor family". Please do not include the following:
- Your address, city, telephone number or email address
- The name of the hospital in which your loved one was a patient
- Names of your loved one or family members
Place your card or letter in an unsealed envelope. Include on a separate piece of paper:
- Your full name
- Mailing address
- The date of donation
Mail both documents in a sealed envelope to :
c/o Donor Family Support
West Tower, Suite 350
555 West 12th Avenue
The Donor Family Support Program will review the letter to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for both you and the transplant recipient, before sending it on to the recipient. Each letter is forwarded from BC Transplant and therefore there may be a delay before your letter reaches the transplant recipient. We make every effort to get letters out as soon as we receive them.
Some donor families and transplant recipients express that they would like to meet someday.
If this is the case for you, we ask that you wait a minimum of one year from the date of donation and/or transplant. After one year, you can formally notify BC Transplant directly at email@example.com. When we receive formal and independent requests from both a donor family and transplant recipient, we will work with both parties to facilitate direct contact.