h2>34. Can members of donors' families and transplant recipients contact each other?

Members of a donor's family can initiate contact with the recipients of their loved one's organs through the local organ procurement organization (OPO) that was involved in the donation. Transplant recipients can also initiate contact with their donor's family by inquiring at the transplant center where the surgery was performed, which would then forward the letter to the OPO, which would forward it in turn to the donor's family (if the family wishes to receive communications). To protect the confidentiality of both the donor's family and the transplant recipients, anonymity is maintained unless both sides decide that they would like to know each other. In that event, written communication or a face-to-face meeting can sometimes be arranged.

The National Donor Family Council has developed guidelines for these communications which you can find in the Donor Family section on the National Kidney Foundation website at http://www.kidney.org.

There are also opportunities for donor families to meet transplant recipients (and vice versa) who are not actually linked by a particular donation. For example, many donor families and recipients attend the U.S. Transplant Games, where they can meet and celebrate the success of transplantation as recipients participate in a wide range of sporting events. This kind of interaction can be helpful for those donor families (or recipients) who would like contact with their recipients (or donor family), but for whom it hasn't worked out, for whatever reason. Sometimes just seeing so many healthy transplant recipients in one place makes the donor's family feel better, even if the particular recipients of their loved ones organs are not present. And for a recipient unable to contact her particular donor family, sometimes it helps to be able to meet and applaud other donors' families.

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