An Open Letter to My Donor Family

By Jack Fassnacht

[Editor's Note: This article was adapted from an article that originally ran in “For Those Who Give and Grieve”, a National Kidney Foundation publication. We hope it inspires other transplant recipients to write a thank you note to their donor family. It's never too late!]

To My Donor Family:

You may be wondering why you haven't heard from me lately. I know this is no excuse, but many of us organ recipients don't know what to write in a thank you note to our donor families. Our second chance at life came about because someone else passed on too early, and we feel guilty about that. But I'll always feel forever linked to you and my donor.

Rest assured I will never forget your kindness, nor the memory of your loved one. When I attend local tree planting ceremonies in my community in remembrance of all organ donors, I remember my own donor. When I pray for organ donors and donor families at church services during National Organ Donation month each April, I pray especially for my donor and donor family. When I read the donor tributes listed on the National Donor Memorial website, I pay tribute to the miraculous legacy left by my own organ donor.

The kidney transplant I received on a snowy night in December 1989 freed me from dialysis and allowed me to finish school, start a career and, most gratifyingly, become a father to a beautiful girl. That girl, born just 18 months after my transplant, is now a kind and gentle young lady who is studying music in college. The life given to me by my donor goes on!

I hope I have lived a life worthy of the priceless gift of life I have received. And I hope you have been able to take some small comfort in your donation decision.

You and your loved one are never far from my thoughts. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for my life.

Jack Fassnacht
Kidney Transplant Recipient (December 28, 1989)