36. What resources are available for donors' families?

The first resource a donor family would come into contact with is the local donation agency or organ procurement organization (OPO). Many OPO's have someone on staff who serves as a liaison to donor families, answering questions, forwarding letters to and from the family (if the family elects to receive communications from the recipients), and other functions, such as organizing memorial services for all the donor families in the region, donor family committees, memorials such as gardens or tree plantings, memorial books, a handmade quilt, or other tributes to the families' loved ones., etc. There may be a local donor family support group, and (more commonly) local grief support groups.

Every year the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Division of Transplantation at the Health Resources and Services Administration, in conjunction with the National Donor Family Council, holds a donor family weekend with seminars and sharing sessions designed specifically to address the needs of donor families. The weekend culminates with the National Donor Recognition Ceremony, which commemorates the lives of those who were organ or tissue donors.

The National Donor Family Council was formed in 1992 to advocate for and support donor families, including assessing donor families' needs, developing programs for families and professionals, developing guidelines for the care of donor families, and improving communication and collaboration to increase donation awareness. It is comprised of donor family members, friends, and professionals in the field of transplantation and donation. The Council's current projects include workshops, an active Internet presence, the development of local councils, and many public awareness, research, educational, and support-related efforts, including a booklet and a newsletter titled "For Those Who Give and Grieve." For more information, visit the Council's web page at http://www.kidney.org.

Return to the list of Frequently Asked Questions >>