Touching Letter to Donor Family  |  October 15, 2013

We encourage you to read this touching letter from a Columbine shooting victim who required transplanted tissue to recover from her injuries. Years later, she wrote this note for her donor’s family. Kacey’s story is a terrific reminder of the possibilities of tissue donation and transplantation.

Dear Donor Family,

Although I do not know your name(s), it is my understanding that as a result of a tragedy suffered by your family many years ago, a tissue donation from your lost loved one was made and preserved until needed and used by others. I am writing to let you know that I am the grateful recipient of tissue from your loved one, and to thank your family for the kind and generous gift of donated tissue that was given to me.  I am so sorry for your loss, but I want you to know that the decision to donate has impacted my life and my family’s life greatly.

I needed a tissue transplant when my shoulder, arm, and wrist were shattered during the Columbine High School Shooting in 1999. Prior to the decision to attempt to use donated tissue to salvage my arm, it was looking like my arm might be amputated. This was my right and dominant arm.  The initial surgery using donated tissue from your loved one was a success, and although there have been many repairs and a few reconstructions since then, the donated tissue remains in my body and has served me well. I now have a near normal looking right arm and hand.

However, I have very limited motion with my arm, and I am unable to continue my passion of working as an Oncology RN. Despite these limitations, my husband and I now have 3 beautiful daughters. I love being a mother and being able to care for our children. Had I not received a tissue transplant, I would never have become an RN, nor would I be able to wrap two arms around our children. That is why I consider your gift to be life-saving, not just life-changing for me. Your gift has given me the chance to enjoy a quality of life that would have been much less otherwise.

I have never lost a family member, and I cannot imagine the sorrow resulting from your loss. It is a courageous and selfless act to consider the potential good of others in a time of grief. Your loved one’s donation has made a difference. My husband is employed by Donor Alliance working with grieving families who have just lost a loved one. From my experience he has firsthand knowledge of the importance of tissue donation, and he and I are grateful for each family he works with who chooses to provide hope for others through donation of tissue.

Recently, I have been given opportunities to speak to a number of different groups about the importance of tissue donation. I am able to share my story, which includes your family. While I have never met you (but would like to!), I hope you find joy in knowing that the life-giving gift from your loved one is shared nationally, and is used to encourage others to realize the significance of tissue donation. I hope to continue sharing this story across the nation, using my gift from your family as inspiration to others to donate.

I am forever thankful for your gift. Not a day goes by that I take for granted having this arm. I don’t want to imagine what life would have been like without this precious gift. Please know that my husband, our children, my parents, and I all cherish your choice to give.

Sincerely,

Kacey

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