Connecting with Donor Families

Southwest Transplant Alliance often receives questions and requests from transplant recipients who are interested in writing to their donor family. We know the decision to correspond with your donor family is a personal one and we are here to help.

recipients_dsc_0088All correspondence is anonymous and identities are kept confidential until both you and your donor’s family agree to share identifying information. If you are considering writing to your donor family, please use the following guide when you draft your correspondence. Download the Writing to Donor Families guide (PDF):


It’s important to remember that while you may wish to correspond with a donor family, it’s also the family’s personal choice to respond. Some families say it helps in the grieving process, while other – although grateful for the letter – prefer privacy and choose not to respond. Still others may take several months or years before they feel comfortable responding.

Remember, individuals manage grief in different ways, so please communicate in a sensitive manner. Thank you for considering writing to your donor family.

Meeting the Donor Family

Southwest Transplant Alliance requires and recommends that you reach out to your donor family by first writing a letter to ensure there is a mutual agreement to meet and/or exchange identifying contact information. Once this has occurred, STA will offer to facilitate a meeting.


If you need an organ transplant, you must be accepted by a hospital transplant center, a hospital that has an established organ transplant program with a team of surgeons and specialists who provide care for people who need transplants. Administrators of the program will place your name on the national waiting list, which is managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) in Richmond, Virginia.

Several things determine how you are placed on the waiting list:

  • Blood type
  • Body size
  • Geographic location
  • The severity of your illness
  • Physical and psychological evaluations
  • Other medical criteria

Factors that are NOT taken into consideration:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Celebrity status
  • Income