Recipient Information


Many donor families ask whether they can have contact with their loved one's recipients. Some wonder how their loved one's organ recipients are doing months and years after the transplant or wish they knew how many people were helped with their loved one's tissue, such as bone and skin.


If your loved one donated tissue, such as corneas, heart valves, veins, skin and/or bone, we can request a tissue update if it has been over a year since your loved one's donation.


If your loved one donated organs, such as kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs or heart, we can request a medical update on the recipient and provide information on the letter writing process, should you wish to initiate contact.

 

Tissue:

Within the first few months of your loved one's donation, you should receive a letter providing information on what tissue was recovered for transplant and how that tissue can be utilized.


Due to tissue regulations and the lengthy quality assurance process, it will take some time before the tissue is able to be used for transplant. Many things can happen along the way (testing, medical record review, evaluation of the tissue measurements) that may deem the tissue not suitable for transplant. Requesting a tissue update can be requested 12 months after donation.


Unfortunately, due to complexities involved with transplantation of donated tissue, we are unable to forward correspondence from donor families to tissue recipients. However, if we receive correspondence from your loved one's tissue recipient, we will contact you and see if you would like to receive this type of correspondence.
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Tissue Uses:

Tissue donation is a gift of immeasurable value as there are many thousands of people waiting for a tissue transplant that will enable them to return to a normal life. Here are some common uses for donated tissue:

  • Bone and ligament tissue may restore quality of life to those that may have suffered traumatic injuries, joint injuries, cancerous tumors, back injuries, or degenerative disease.
  • Cornea and posterior pole tissues can give sight to one or two people who have been devastated by the loss of sight; the gift of restored vision is miraculous.
  • Whole heart for heart valve tissues may help up to two people who may have suffered from heart disease or children born with birth defects.
  • Pericardium (the layer of tissue around the heart) tissue can repair a patient's shoulder or to help with cardiac/heart surgeries or breast reconstruction.
  • Vein tissues may be used to replace blocked arteries in heart-bypass surgery or in peripheral vascular reconstruction surgery where a bypass is required or to help save a patient's limb.
  • Skin tissue can be used to fill soft tissue loss from cancer or trauma, to repair hernia injuries, to restore bladder control in the treatment of incontinence, and used in periodontal surgery to correct gingival defects.
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Tissue Update:

Before you request an update, make sure you have support in your life and are able deal with good news as well as the possible news that nothing was able to be transplanted. Some people are just happy knowing they did what they could to help and don't want to deal with potential bad news, and in this case, aren't ready to request an update. Other people just want to know either way.


When tissue is utilized for transplant, tissue trace cards are sent back to the processor and when we request an update, the processor informs us of the number of surgeries performed to date with the donated tissue. Sometimes the processors can provide information such as the recipient's gender, age, state where the surgery took place or type of surgery performed.


If you are ready to proceed with requesting an update, email familycare@onelegacy.org or call 800-423-7220. Please indicate you'd like to receive a medical update and include your donor's full name and date of birth, and your full name and phone number. You must be the legal next of kin on record to request an update.
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Organs:

Within the first few months on your loved one's donation, you should receive a letter providing information about what organs were able to be transplanted. Depending on what information was released from the transplant center, there may be some social information about the recipients as well.


Families often wonder how the recipients are doing months or years later. Upon your request for a medical update, we can ask the transplant centers how each recipient is doing and relay this information back to you. Our policy allows us to obtain these updates every six months.


Choosing to write to an organ recipient is a very personal decision. The right time to write is whenever you feel ready. The confidentiality of donor families and transplant recipients is protected at all times. All identities are kept confidential and anonymous unless both parties have agreed to disclose their identities to each other. In our experience, meetings between donor families and organ recipients are extremely rare.
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Medical Update:

Before you request an update, make sure you have support in your life and are able deal with good news as well as the possible news that something has happened to the recipient. Some people are just happy knowing they did what they could to help and don't want to deal with potential bad news, and in this case, aren't ready to request an update. Other people just want to know either way.


If you are ready to proceed with requesting an update, email familycare@onelegacy.org or call 800-423-7220. Please indicate you'd like to receive a medical update and include your donor's full name and date of birth, and your full name and phone number. You must be the legal next of kin on record to request an update.
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Writing to Recipients:

If you choose to write to an organ recipient, here is some information to guide your process:



Mailing your letter or card:

  • Place the letter or card in an unsealed envelope.
  • Include a separate sheet of paper with your full name and the name and date of death of your loved one.
  • Mail your letter to Attn: Family Care, OneLegacy, 221 South Figueroa St, Ste 500, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
  • You may also email your letter to familycare@onelegacy.org.
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Where does the letter go?

Once we receive your letter, we may review it to ensure confidentiality. Your letter will then be forwarded to the recipient's transplant center, whose responsibility it is to pass your letter along to the recipient. This process may take several weeks.
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Will I hear from the recipient?

Some recipients may choose to send a letter or card in response to your letter. Other recipients may choose not to write to you at this time; this is their personal decision. Please do not take such inaction personally, as many transplant recipients feel overwhelmed with emotion and have difficulty expressing their gratitude in writing. However, based on our experience, all transplant recipients are profoundly grateful for your gift of life, with many choosing to express their gratitude through community service.
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