No matter the circumstances, grieving can be very difficult for anyone. To support donor families as they make their way through the grieving process, Dakota Lions Sight & Health has established our donor family care program.
There are several components of our program. Donor families are welcome to take advantage of as much or as little as they choose. We understand families come in all shapes and sizes and anyone connected to the donor is welcome to participate in our program. We respect and honor all donor families and seek to help in any way we can.
Letters & Cards of Support
It is important for donor families to learn that their loved one’s gift helped restore sight & health. Soon after the transplant takes place, the donor family receives a letter of thanks that also provides some limited information about the recipient. A special gift is included as well. Each donor family receives a crystal teardrop in memory of the donor who gave the precious gifts of sight & health.
Personal Phone Calls of Support
During the year following donation, our Donor Family Care Coordinator calls families to offer a listening ear and support. For a donor family, it is important to tell the story of their loved one, to share thoughts and feelings, and to hear their loved one’s name spoken out loud. These calls also allow us to get to know the grief journey and to tailor our program to each individual. We also can assist in finding local professional assistance and resources.
Throughout the year, we hold tribute events where donor families and transplant recipients are invited together to celebrate the gifts of sight & health. Donor families are honored through various components of the event including an honor table, slideshow, speakers, and the roll call of honor is read aloud. Transplant recipients also have the opportunity to share their story and show appreciation to the donors.
We invite donor families to submit a quilt square in memory of their loved one. The square are stitched together with love and a quilt is made which honors the donors. The squares often include a special memory, hobby or interest, or other facet of the donor’s life. Donor families are encouraged to write a short story about the creation of their quilt square and what it means to them.
Writing to the Recipient
If the donor family wishes to write to the recipient, we act as the intermediary to ensure confidentiality and to respect privacy. In this capacity, we strive to serve both the donor family and the recipient. Writing to a recipient is a very personal choice and there is no right or wrong time nor is there any obligation to do so. Should you decided to write, you may choose to share information about yourself and your loved one. Writing this letter can be helpful in the grieving process. Transplant recipients consistently express appreciation for the letters they receive and welcome learning about the person who provided their transplant gift.
Helpful suggestions for writing to a recipient:
- Use first names only
- You may wish to include information about the donor’s occupation, hobbies, interests, or other special things or memories that were shared.
- You may wish to include some general information, such as the state in which the donor lived or family information, but it is important to use only first names and respect privacy
- It is best to place your card/note in an unsealed envelope as we review letters to ensure confidentiality and privacy
- On a separate cover sheet, include your full name, address, relationship to the donor, and the donor’s name – this is used only by Dakota Lions Sight & Health and is not shared
Place all items in an envelope and send to:
Dakota Lions Sight & Health
ATTN: Donor Family Care Coordinator
4501 W 61st St N
Sioux Falls, SD 57107
Please keep in mind that correspondence may take some time. Some recipients do not respond immediately and some may not respond at all. Oftentimes transplant recipients have a difficult time expressing their gratitude. They can be overwhelmed with emotion knowing that their donation was a result of the death of your loved one. It may take a while for some to feel comfortable enough to respond.
If you have any questions or comments about our donor family care program, please contact us.