Life is a semi-colon; it is only a pause.
August 7, 2009 2:37 PM   Subscribe

As of last week, I have a bone marrow donor (Praise, God!). Because he's a "domestic" donor, I have to wait a full year before I know his identity (and only if he wishes to share it, of course), but I just found out that I can correspond with him anonymously through a long train of doctors, social workers, and representatives. I'd like to send him a thank you of some kind, but how does one thank a person for giving the gift of life?

More specifically, how does one accomplish this while avoiding the black line of censorship, because I've accidentally divulged too much about who I am?

So in addition to a sincere word of thanks...

I was thinking a poem. Or a song lyric? Perhaps something of a literary bent? I don't know. This is all happening so very fast.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
posted by litterateur to Human Relations (50 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Write a letter. Tell him who you are and who, thanks to him, you hope to be. I think that would mean more to me than a lyric or a poem.
posted by IanMorr at 2:41 PM on August 7, 2009 [6 favorites]

Commit yourself to doing something good for others and tell your donor what it is.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:41 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Tell your donor about yourself, in plain language, and what his/her gift of bone marrow has done for you.
posted by xingcat at 2:45 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so much for your thoughtful and quick responses. The difficulty, however, is that I'm not allowed to tell him about myself yet. Not for another year. Even in our correspondence, we must refer to one another as "donor" and "recipient."
posted by litterateur at 2:49 PM on August 7, 2009

It's still a good idea to tell him a bit about yourself, unless that's strictly forbidden. Can you say things like "I am a college student studying..." or if not, "Your recipient is a college student and wishes you to know she is planning on becoming a...."

Maybe tell hobbies, loves, etc. Whatever they won't redact. I would also not get your hopes up on learning the identity. I doubt if I would want to be other than anonymous in this situation.

And congrats!
posted by cjorgensen at 2:56 PM on August 7, 2009

Best answer: Without including specifics that identify you, why don't you say what the generosity means to you? What things do you hope to accomplish, that receiving the bone marrow might make possible? What events with family and friends do you look forward to, that you might not be there for without the generosity? You can do this even in a very vague/privacy-protective way, I would think, and it may speak more from the heart than a poem or song lyric.

When I thank the world at large for the blood and platelet donations that kept my daughter able to receive chemo, which extended her short life, I always remind them that it gave us the irreplaceable gift of Christmas with our child - we only had the one, and without the generosity of those who gave blood and platelets, of those who donate to St. Jude, of those who helped us with our lives allowing us to pursue the baby's chemo, that single Christmas would have been something we spent the rest of our lives wishing we had had. I don't know, that route may not appeal to you at all.

At any rate, congratulations on finding a match. I hear the chances of finding a non-related match are so incredibly low. I'm so glad you did!
posted by bunnycup at 2:56 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Can you get some of your friends/loved ones to contribute? A kind word from (say) your mother would move me to tears, were I the donor.
posted by FfejL at 3:18 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but when I do something nice for someone, and they thank (their) god instead of thanking me, I find it really irritating. Congratulations and by all means celebrate and give thanks in whatever ways are meaningful to you! However, remember when writing your letter that your donor may have any (or no) religious bent and it's therefore probably best to keep that out of the letter. I like the other answers better than mine, because they are about what to write, not what not to write.
posted by fritley at 3:35 PM on August 7, 2009 [12 favorites]

Consider that he may not want to know anything about you and that helping was enough. Thanks are fine, but as sad or unfair as it may sound, it's not really fair for you to try and get into his head like this. This is an intense time for you and the year-wait was likely instituted for a reason.
posted by rhizome at 3:45 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

As fritley stated, your donor may not be religious. Hell, you may not be religious, but your "Priase God" statement in your question threw up a flag for me. If I were the donor and I received correspondence from someone praising God for my actions, I'd seriously reconsider. And no, I'm not being hyperbolic. I do nice things for people all the time and when they say "God bless" or any such thing to me in response, I let them know that if they ever do so again, it'll be the last kindness they'll get from me.

The degree to which such a claim or action may offend you is the degree to which religious explanations for my behavior offend me.

And I also agree with fritley--the other suggestions are better. But, just in case you were unaware, there are people out there like me. And they want nothing to do with your god.

Best of luck with your transplant.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:46 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Speaking as a donor here- a picture of you with your family afterwards doing something you wouldn't have been able to do otherwise* would be very cool and certainly thanks enough.

*Like a picnic, not like daredevil motorcross. Demonstrating risk to life and limb would be inconsiderate.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:53 PM on August 7, 2009

no gift can express your gratitude and leave religion out of it. write a letter saying that their generosity will not go unforgotten and that they, whoever they may be, will be in your thoughts for the rest of your life.
posted by Paleoindian at 3:58 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just looked at your website. Your first impulse is right: A poem. It is a way to express thanks to your donor, and share a little bit about your interests at the same time.

But, don't also post your poem on your website until after the 1 year is up.
posted by Houstonian at 4:02 PM on August 7, 2009

(And, I'm happy you found a donor!)
posted by Houstonian at 4:03 PM on August 7, 2009

Best answer: Congratulations on finding a donor. I love that you want to show your gratitude in a meaningful way -- I am sure that whatever you end up doing will make your donor feel really good.

You could do something that takes a year, and then give/show it to him when the year is up. It could be a thing or a project: a plant, a quilt, a community garden, an after school program, a [bone marrow transplant-requiring disease] fundraiser...
posted by Methylviolet at 4:06 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: "This is all happening so very fast."

No doubt, and yet there is no need for this part of the process to be rushed. You may want to take a little while to see how events unfold and what more it means to you as time goes on and a new reality takes shape. I can almost guarantee that things are going to happen that you would never have expected. You could find yourself saying something like, "I have never seen my father shed a tear, but when the doctor told him that the procedure was a success, he broke down and cried." Which is not to say that you cannot or should not say thank you now if you want to; just keep in mind that this does not have to the be-all and end-all of thank yous. Some recipients write to their donor -- or the donor's family -- every year, or periodically over the ensuing years, with updates, pictures of their families, or simply to say "thank you" once again.
posted by littlecatfeet at 4:18 PM on August 7, 2009

I know that donating bone marrow is a vastly more involved process than donating blood, but speaking as a fairly dedicated donor -- one who has probably saved, and please excuse me but I'm really not bragging here, dozens of lives (today was my 53rd donation) -- I'd be completely weirded out to hear from a phlebotomist that somerandomperson really appreciated that pint of blood that saved his life. This may sound terse but, to me, you know how you appreciate it? You go on. Anything else is navelgazing.
posted by cog_nate at 4:24 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd be completely weirded out to hear from a phlebotomist that somerandomperson really appreciated that pint of blood that saved his life. This may sound terse but, to me, you know how you appreciate it? You go on. Anything else is navelgazing.

It's not the same thing --I'm a blood donor too, and I go down to a trailer at work, give blood, and I'm back at my desk in fifteen minutes. Marrow donation is more complicated medically, and you have to be on a registry to donate and there's some kind of bureaucracy, and you have to be be willing to do it when they call you, it's hard to find a match and really important that they do--it's not like with blood where the majority of us are like 'unleaded'.

litterateur's donor is probably a close genetic match, and he's the person who can save her life, he's The Guy. So there's a greater intimacy involved, and there's probably a certain satisfaction that this guy is going to feel, knowing he's helped a stranger, and it would probably be quite nice for him to hear that the real human on the other side of it was thanking him.

I'm not saying they need to go out for drinks every year or anything, but it's a real human exchange.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:44 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]

And litterateur -- Congratulations! And good luck to you.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:45 PM on August 7, 2009

I'd be completely weirded out to hear from a phlebotomist that somerandomperson really appreciated that pint of blood that saved his life.

Totally different. If you knew you were donating the whole year's blood to one particular person for one particular thing you'd be getting closer to it.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:45 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

>leave religion out of it

If religion is important to the OP, I see no reason to follow this advice. Even if the donor is not religious, she will understand and appreciate the sentiment.
posted by yclipse at 5:19 PM on August 7, 2009 [5 favorites]

Wow, congratulations!! That really is incredible, I'm happy for you, and I don't even know you.

I think that you maybe should just wait, and sort of because of that. Your donor knows what a big, awesome, life saving deal it is. S/he knows it ain't giving once in a while at the blood bank. So, focus on what you need to do now - I have no idea but it must be a lot of preparation, medical stuff, right? - get through all that, and farther down this road you'll be ready to send a reflective, heartfelt thanks.

For now, just write something along this line "Thank you for saving my life". That'd be pretty awesome for anyone to hear.
posted by RajahKing at 5:32 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "If religion is important to the OP, I see no reason to follow this advice. Even if the donor is not religious, she will understand and appreciate the sentiment."

I'm on the donor registry, and I would not appreciate the sentiment. There are comments in this thread from people who would also not appreciate this sentiment. Therefore, I don't think what you said is can be taken as a blanket statement.

I agree with RajahKing that you should just keep it simple for now. When my dad died, we didn't hear from most of the people who received organs from him at all; but we did hear back from someone a year later, and the timing was just fine.

Once the year is up, go with FfejL's idea - have a bunch of your friends and family write a letter to your donor detailing their favorite memory of you, bundle 'em up, and send them with a letter of your own. I would cherish those letters for the rest of my life. I'm getting misty-eyed just thinking about how awesome that would be.
posted by McBearclaw at 5:51 PM on August 7, 2009

If religion is important to the OP, I see no reason to follow this advice. Even if the donor is not religious, she will understand and appreciate the sentiment.

I don't understand why you would say that except if you assume everyone is just like you. That kind of assumption is, in fact, what I was trying to warn about. Besides, it is demonstrably false: see above.
posted by fritley at 5:53 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

>leave religion out of it

If religion is important to the OP, I see no reason to follow this advice. Even if the donor is not religious, she will understand and appreciate the sentiment

That's quite an assumption. And just because the non religious person is gracious and smiles through it doesn't mean it doesn't bug the crap out of them. When my mother died, the religious cards came streaming in. How I would see her again in heaven etc etc I know they meant well, but I don't believe in god, I don't think my mother is looking down on me from heaven, because I don't believe in heaven. It was the absolute last thing on earth I wanted to hear at the time. If I saved someone's life and they came thanking god for answering their prayers etc etc I would grin and bare it because I would know they meant well, but it would totally destroy what would otherwise be a very nice and possibly meaningful moment of gratitude.

A thank you should be about the person you are thanking not about what is important to the person giving thanks. The OP doesn't know anything about this person, so keep religion out of it.
posted by whoaali at 5:57 PM on August 7, 2009

Best answer: What fourcheesemac said. This is one of the things that can't be paid back, but anyone who's ever seen the smallest altruism paid forward can tell you it's hugely gratifying.

After the AskMe Atheist Analyst squad, I feel obliged to say: I trust you to thank your donor, as you say you intend to, rather than simply thanking God in your donor's direction. I trust you when you say you don't know much more than that about what you're going to write, and I trust you to know what you're going to write better than I know it. I trust your donor to understand the difference between the goodwill of asking any god that might exist to bless him, and the condescension and dismissiveness of ascribing his decisions purely to such a god. I even trust that you said 'he', 'his', and 'him' because you know your donor is male, or out of expediency, rather than out of heedless or deliberate support for the oppressive patriarchy. So don't take the Atheist Analysts too personally, nor the Pronoun Police if they should show up. Life is good ... and it's getting longer.
posted by eritain at 6:19 PM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]

I'm so glad for you, and keep us posted on your progress. As for thanks, express what you feel: people are able to recognize when a sentiment is sincere and comes from the heart, regardless of how it is worded.
posted by francesca too at 6:20 PM on August 7, 2009

I think just a really SIMPLE "thank you, this meant a lot to me" is best. No mention of religion, who you are or what you're about, or anything else that could make them question what they did. Just a simple thank you.
posted by glider at 6:32 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

First of all, congratulations. I am so happy for you and thankful that you have found a donor.

Now, onto your question. I don't think you should send a poem, at least not right now. I don't think you should include anything even the least bit religious. I think you should go for short and sincere. Something along the lines of, "Thank you for saving my life." In a year, contact the donor and send a thousand poems and pictures, tell your donor of all the things you have done in that year, say then, "Without you, none of it would have been possible for me."
posted by SkylitDrawl at 6:38 PM on August 7, 2009

If I were ever chosen to donate blood marrow, I would like to receive a letter all about the person's life - what they like to do, what they want to do, their family, their hobbies, all of that. That would be the most important thing - giving him or her the picture of who you are and what their donation means to you. As much as you can tell, anyway. I don't think you even need to write "thankyouthankyouthankyou" a million times as I'd probably be tempted to in your situation.

After that, it would be cool to receive some kind of homemade token (or poem, or story.) Something that is meaningful that you made yourself, even if it's cookies. But the first part up there is really the key. A framed picture would be good (maybe sign a thank-you on the back?), if that doesn't break some sort of anonymity rule.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:38 PM on August 7, 2009

I agree that short and sincere would be a good way to go, but also include info on what kinds of things you do/plan to do. All of us, even those of us on the registry, can imagine what we would like to hear/get if we donated, but until we actually do, it's just kind of a guess. (to the person who compared it to blood donation, it's sooo different, especially if it's the full marrow transplant and not just blood stem cells). However, I know that if I ever end up donating, I wouldn't expect anything from the recipient. I would like to hear how they're doing, of course, but know that the time around a transplant is a time when it's totally understandable for the recipient to be focusing on themselves and their family. On the religion front, I would tend to agree that leaving it out might be best, at least until you get to find out more about your donor and their lifestyle. Not that you have ever even said here that you were going to mention it, but just in case, I guess.

Congrats on finding a donor!!
posted by ishotjr at 6:55 PM on August 7, 2009

Congratulations, I'm so happy you've found a donor! As others have said, as long as it's sincere and from your heart you'll be fine.
posted by arcticseal at 7:03 PM on August 7, 2009

Best answer: Perhaps you should write a letter, poem, etc. One a month for the next twelve months. Save them in a box or an envelope. Send the package to your donor at the end of the year. This allows you to express everything you want to without having to censor yourself, but respects the time delay that is required.

posted by jeanmari at 7:05 PM on August 7, 2009

Best answer:
I just wanted to say that your question reminded me of this beautiful post.
I hope you find your answer :)
posted by xm at 7:19 PM on August 7, 2009

Does the donor know who you are? If not, the risk you run with a letter explaining all about your life, is that your life might be repugnant to the donor. If you keep it to simply "My loved ones and I thank you with all our heart" you don't run the risk of ruining the day of someone who's less happy all those decades of Planned Parenthood blockades you're now able to do, thanks to their sacrifice. (Or whatever. My point is, I recommend you keep anything REMOTELY controversial out of it.)
posted by small_ruminant at 7:51 PM on August 7, 2009

glider has it right. Say "Thank you so much."

Then pay it forward when you can. Congratulations and best of luck to you.
posted by trip and a half at 7:58 PM on August 7, 2009

My father just had a heart transplant--after a certain time we will be allowed to contact the donor's family. I am surprised you were not given guidelines on any correspondence in the hospital.

Here are some ">guidelines I have seen in the forms given to my father by hospital staff--there is a very specific procedure for this when it comes to heart, lungs, etc. Perhaps bone marrow is different.
posted by greatalleycat at 9:20 PM on August 7, 2009

The New Yorker had a recent article about organ donation & subsequent recipient-donor contact.
posted by headnsouth at 9:23 PM on August 7, 2009

Link to article I was talking about before.

How do you link to articles with a word? I do it on Wordpress, I can't get it to work here.,
posted by greatalleycat at 9:27 PM on August 7, 2009

Link to article I was talking about.
posted by greatalleycat at 9:34 PM on August 7, 2009

Best answer: From the sounds of your post, it I'm going to assume you found a donor through NMDP. In the interest of full disclosure, I am an employee of the NMDP, but my comments are my own and not anything 'official'. If you aren't working through NMDP, some of the below may not apply.

First off, I would strongly suggest, if you haven't already, to get in contact with the Office of Patient Advocacy. They can answer many of your questions, and although they can't really tell you how to write your letter, they will probably be able to give you some suggestions regarding what they typically see in this situation.

As for the letter, I wouldn't go giving every personal piece of information about your life, because it's going to be redacted; but don't use that as a reason to hold back; if they feel you shared too much, it'll just be redacted.

From the recipient letters they've shared with us (with their consent of course), it seems the best ones are mostly just talking about their lives. How they've been playing with their kids, they're back to work, putting sheetrock up in the basement, that kind of stuff; but done in a way that subtly, but unquestionably, lets the donor know that you feel they are responsible for allowing you to have the quality of life that you have been able to get back, and describing your appreciation for their sacrifice. They have a simple, no-nonsense "Here's what your help has allowed me to achieve" vibe. This will give the donor a better sense of accomplishment than simply telling them basic info about yourself and your family along with thanks.

As for whether or not the donor wants to know: I'm not involved with that end so I'm not 100% sure, but I believe that the letters are shared with the donor only if they want them. I can confirm this after the weekend, but even if I'm wrong, if the donor doesn't want to know anything, nothing's forcing them to read the letter. There's as much of a support net for donors as their is for recipients, so the donors certainly are not put into any situations that they're not comfortable with. As for the religious slant, there's no reason to leave it out completely if it means something to you. Typically someone who is willing to make this sacrifice to save someone else's life isn't going to be offended by someone's religion. But don't overdo it. If applicable, simply describing some activities you've been involved with at church gets the point across without being preachy.

If contact is important to you, be thankful your donor was domestic. Roughly 50% of our transplant activity involves international donors or recipients, and foreign laws around this stuff are often much more locked down than here in the states. Many overseas laws state that recipients are never allowed to meet their donors, or vice versa, and sometimes I think even anonymous communication is disallowed.

Remember the major difference between organ donations and bone marrow: For organ donations you're most likely in contact with a deceased donor's family. With bone marrow or PBSC* donation, you have the luxury of thanking the donor themselves. While they sound similar at a high level, you can easily see how the interactions can have a much different feel.

* PBSC: An alternative form of transplant, actually now performed more often than marrow donation, that is less intrusive for the donor; the donation is very similar to donating blood after a few days of immune system buildup whose symptoms many describe as similar to a mild cold. See reference.

Given the timing of your transplant, if next November is past the 1 year mark and you have contacts in the OPA, you may wish to consider being a part of the annual Council Meeting held here in Minneapolis each November, which traditionally closes with a Donor-Recipient Meeting. I have no idea how they select those who are invited, whether you can request to participate, or whatever... but it's worth looking into. It's always an emotional moment for the may hundreds of employees, doctors, etc. who attend, and I can say from personal experience that that specific moment helps remind so many of us why we work where we do.

Congrats on finding a donor, and here's wishing you the very best of luck on a successful transplant. MeFi mail me if I can help some more.

Oh, and shameless plug / semi-hijack: Signing up to be a donor is now FREE for everyone. Previously a donation was often required to help defray the huge cost of tissue / DNA typing, but now all donors have the opportunity to register free of charge. Registering is as simple as a do-it-yourself cheek swab at home. Please consider registering... The OP is an example of a life you might save, and every new donor is an increased chance that someone in need will find a match.
posted by SquidLips at 9:56 PM on August 7, 2009 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Here's my take on it: don't express anything that will set you up as "owing" your donor. Really, I think if I were to write the letter that looks likely to come out of all these posts of advice, simply express a few milestones (in general terms) that you'll be able to reach because of what your donor has given you. Let the donor know s/he has created good in the world. And yes, be as specific as you can without giving yourself away. Simply tell the donor that, because of this gift, you this person will be able to enjoy/do these good things, and then a simple thank you for that simple gift is in order.

"Here is what you have done" gives the donor a chance to reflect on it independent of any framing you might put to it, and I think that makes it more "real" for the donor. Even a bullet-pointed list of vagaries might suffice:

- "You have given a daughter her mother."
- "You have allowed a small business to continue operating, and providing an income for a family."
- "You have enabled the authorship of a novel."
Thank you from the bottom of all our hearts, for everything you've given us. It's a gift we'll always cherish.

Were I the donor, receiving that, or something to that effect, would move me to tears. I'm almost crying now!
posted by saysthis at 10:07 PM on August 7, 2009

Response by poster: I didn't realize that two words would incite so much controversy--I certainly didn't mean for it, but I cannot deny my faith, and I really didn't think that I was pushing my beliefs onto other people. For this misunderstanding, I'm sorry. It was never my intent to proclaim the glories of my God and completely ignore and/or negate my donor's sacrifice--not here, and especially not in my letter. I may make mention of it, but I am aware that not everyone in the world believes as I do.

I would like to note that I do appreciate the place from which these comments come. I believe that you do have the donor's and my best interests at heart; for this, I thank you.

Just to clarify, yes, I know that my donor is male. He even has a different blood-type from mine, so this will truly be a rebirth of sorts.

I've read through all of your posts, but I need to get some sleep. So I will go through them more thoroughly tomorrow and then mark best answers.

Thanks again, MeFi, for taking the time to help.

And to re-plug an earlier plug, please consider being a donor of any kind.
posted by litterateur at 11:03 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Thank you!"


"Thank you for making this sacrifice for me!"

I would refrain from mentioning God or religion at all. Your faith is important to you and there's nothing wrong with that- but that's between you and God, isn't it? Let God reveal himself to the donor in His own way. I'm pretty sure God is not so vain that He'd hold it against you for not mentioning your religion in a letter to a stranger. You aren't denying your faith, you are simply thanking someone for their effort. A proper thank you is a tiny little prostration, or humbling of oneself to the giver- including God in the thank you is for you, not for them. And so it makes the thank you that much less sincere. It adds nothing- a Godly person would receive a thank you that doesn't mention God and say to themselves "thank God I was able to help." They'll know that their God was involved. But for an atheist/agnostic, it won't mean anything. But if the person is some other religion, or religiously atheist, it may be slightly offensive: by mentioning that you believe God was involved in their decision to donate, you are taking something away from their individual decision.

I would also refrain from offering "emotional payment" for their donation. When I donate something, I do it for my reasons. I don't need or want justifications from someone about it. It has the subtle implication that the person made the donation in expectation of getting some external reward from it. It says to me, ever so slightly, "just so you know, your puppy went to a good home and not to some savage down the street who won't appreciate it." Most people do good things because they are good people who simply want to do good things. It also says "I don't trust you enough to imagine the good you've done: here is exactly how you should feel."
posted by gjc at 5:49 AM on August 8, 2009

Best answer: Congratulations on finding a donor!

Every year, on July 9, I call my grandfather and thank him for giving me one of his kidneys in 1996. Similarly, I call my uncle on April 1 to thank him for the kidney that he gave me in 2003. With both of them, I talk about the things I was able to do as a result of the transplant(s): go to school, compose some music, conduct a band for the first time, meet my wife, etc. I thank them for their generosity by showing them what it has done for me.

You probably have some ideas now about how your life will change post-transplant, but in my experience, there are plenty of unexpected changes and improvements. If your plan is to write one letter and be done, I would wait (6 months or more) until you actually know all the ways your life has been improved. On the other hand, if you want to send several letters, you could send one now talking about how excited you are, and later send others with updates on your progress.

I agree with what has been said above regarding any kind of of debt between donor and recipient. My donors knew what they were doing, and how big a sacrifice it was. It's something that can't ever be repaid directly; in my view, the only way you can repay this sort of extreme kindness is by living well, taking care of yourself, and doing good for others.
posted by sleepinglion at 9:06 AM on August 8, 2009

Best answer: gjc: It says to me, ever so slightly, "just so you know, your puppy went to a good home and not to some savage down the street who won't appreciate it." Most people do good things because they are good people who simply want to do good things.

Considering that many people justify not doing good things because the beneficiary isn't deserving enough ("that homeless guy will just spend it on booze... that nonprofit spends too much money on administrative costs... the Red Cross threw blood donations away... that shelter won't even spay/neuter my adopted dog for me..."), I think it's a good thing to let a donor (of any type) know the positive results of his donation. It will keep him donating, as well as add to the positive anecdotes out there that encourage other people to donate.

Besides, thanking someone is an expression of your own gratitude; just as the donor gave his marrow for his own reasons, litterateur's thanking him is more about litterateur than it is about the donor.
posted by headnsouth at 9:35 AM on August 8, 2009

My suggestion doesn't directly answer your question, but I hope you will read some Medical Sociology that deals specifically with tissue donation. Much of the work deals with organs from deceased donors, but I believe on the recipient side that information will be relevant to you.

(the short version: Donors and Recipients are given vastly different/conflicting "lines" from the medical community about what such donation "means" This makes the experience difficult for people to process.)

I guess if I were to be matched as a donor, the note I would hope for would say something like, "Thanks so much for your enormous kindness. This whole process has been so ____ (adjective) and your gift has really given me hope. I welcome any correspondence from you."
posted by bilabial at 5:36 PM on August 8, 2009

Best answer: Congratulations and the best of luck to you during this entire process!

Others have made excellent suggestions for you. I think the only thing I can suggest is that if you are able to "pay it forward" (in whatever way available to you), your donor might appreciate hearing about it.
posted by wiskunde at 6:09 PM on August 8, 2009

Just for an alternative voice, since the whole religion derail hit pretty hard -- I'm a pretty comfy athiest, and I would have no problem if I donated marrow and got a card back from someone referencing God. I'd think, huh, interesting, they're religious. But I wouldn't think it was offensive or anything. I'd just think it was a detail. I wouldn't go into it thinking that I was saving the life another llama. I wouldn't care if they were a llama or not.

Since everyone else thinks it's problematic, I guess it might be problematic, but I just wanted to weigh in that not everyone would have a problem with it -- I wouldn't.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:54 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I donated some 15 years ago and have never had any contact with my recipient. I'm comfortable with that, but often wonder about her.

It seems there are quite a range of opinions as to what your donor would like to know about you at this time. It's likely that your donor doesn't know at his moment how he feels or will feel in 1 or 20 years time about forming a 'relationship' with you. Remember that until a matter of weeks ago, this person had simply joined a register - a truly commendable thing, but that has now escalated into saving someone's life. He might have a whole host of thoughts that need time to settle down and resolve regarding the enormity of his part in this and the implications of communicating with you. That's why the agency impose the 12 month rule - in a year you'll both have had time to consider the situation more fully and be able to reflect on what it has meant to each other and how you both want to proceed.

For me, at this stage, a handwritten note of just two words - 'Thank you' would have been enormously touching and would be enough to indicate that you would be open to further communication in the future.
posted by hmca at 12:18 PM on August 15, 2009

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