Letters show how tissue donation changed lives 

Excerpts from an exchange of letters show that tissue donation was another way the donor could help others. 

Recipient Letter to Donor’s Family

A year before her death, Cathy was dedicated to exercise. She ran a half-marathon with her sister.

“I am writing to express my sympathy in the death of your family member and to thank you for the very special gift of tissue that they donated. … I needed the tissue to repair my ACL in my knee. It was a blessing to know the donated tissue was available to me and that it would be the best option for my recovery.

“The transplanted tissue has allowed me to be stronger in my knee than I have been in 30 years. I am on my way to recovery but I can already see a difference. I call it my BIONIC knee with the strength of two! I teach aerobics and personal train so my strength is very important. Knowing that I share a knee with someone else makes me feel more responsible for it. I am thankful!”

Donor’s Sister’s Response to the Recipient

“My name is Jamie and I am the sister of the individual whose tissue you received. First let me say how grateful I am that you took the time to reach out to us and let us know that my sister’s death was not in vain. …

Cathy and Daughter
Cathy left a legacy of love, laughter, and giving to her daughter. 

“At the time of my sister’s death, we could not find her driver’s license and therefore did not know if she was an organ and tissue donor. What we did know was that she gave everything she had to anyone who needed it. She used to insist that her friends not buy her Christmas gifts. They would take the money and buy gift cards for the homeless man they always saw at McDonalds. Because of this we did not hesitate to donate her tissue. We knew it was what she would want.

“In the year before her death my sister had become dedicated to exercise. She even talked me into doing a half marathon. I cursed her every inch of those 13.2 miles but in the end, I was proud of her and glad I did it.

“Thank you again for taking the time to write us. You have no idea what it means to us. My sister, Cathy, would be proud and I know she’s smiling.”

A Note on the Donation

When 46-year-old Cathy passed away, her family chose to donate her eyes, skin, and bone. Two people received the gift of restored sight. One recipient was a 66-year-old woman and the other a 67-year-old man, both of whom live in North Texas.

Fourteen life-saving skin grafts were provided to patients at the Regional Burn Center at Parkland Memorial Hospital. And 128 musculoskeletal grafts have been distributed to hospitals for transplantation, with six of those being in North Texas.

In addition to eye and tissue donation, Cathy left behind a powerful legacy of love, laughter, and giving. Her sister, Jamie, is raising Cathy’s daughter, who was 5 when her mother passed away. Jamie has started a memory basket to share with her niece when the time comes. The basket includes the mementoes of Cathy's donation, including the letter quoted above.

In commenting on donation, Jamie says, “Tissue donation is not something most of us ever think about but the fact is, it changes lives in an inconceivable way. Thank you for the opportunity to change lives. My sister is smiling.”