My Dad’s Donor

Immediately after my father’s release from the hospital last March everyone in my family wrote a personal letter to my father’s donor’s family to thank them for their life saving decision, in the face of what must have been terrible grief. My father has written a few additional letters over the course of his first year post-transplant as he has savored and celebrated annual milestones that had once seemed impossibly out of reach. He has intended that his news of survival and revival would offer some comfort to the donor family and would somehow convey the gratitude and blessing he has felt.  He had hoped that he would receive a reply, but also realized that perhaps his letters brought too much pain to be answered.


Yesterday, somewhat fittingly St. Valentine’s Day, my father received a letter from the family of his donor. The letter was written on December 26, 2008 but arrived just yesterday after having been routed through the national organ donor network to preserve everyone’s privacy, which I will continue to do here.  My father is spending a few months in Florida, enjoying his regained freedom, so the letter was forwarded to him there.


My father called me at home yesterday.  When I answered the phone I could hear such a trembling in his voice that I immediately became alarmed.  I thought something was wrong.  But quite the contrary, he was overwhelmed with joy to finally know a bit about person that he now shares a life with.  So with a determined but quavering voice, he read the letter to me.


The letter was written by the donor’s father. His father told us a lot about his son: his name and age, about his children, favorite sports, and so on.  The letter included specific memories about his son throughout his life.  It was a wonderful letter.  It was pretty apparent that this was a person who was a part of many other people’s lives. It made the joy of his life and the pain of his loss real to us.


Now when I think "Thank you" I feel like I can direct it to someone specific, in a more personal way.  And that feels better to me.

Thank you.

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2 Responses to My Dad’s Donor

  1. Dave says:

    Your father was very lucky to get a transplant. Over half of the 100,000 Americans on the national waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate about 20,000 transplantable organs every year. Over 6,000 of their neighbors die every year as a result.There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage — give organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren\’t prepared to share the gift of life should go to the back of the transplant waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

  2. Amy says:

    Larry, I feel the exact same way you do. It feels better to direct the "Thank you". You know, I was thinking how funny it is that Dad never considered himself lucky. All those jokes made by himself and his friends about "Black Cloud Eddie"… Who knew just how lucky dad would be when it REALLY mattered?

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