Share Your Story of Hope

We treasure your stories. They are inspiring and keep us motivated daily. Whether it’s the mother who can once again see every little detail of her children’s faces or the grieving husband who said that the donation experience was the only light on his darkest day, or the tendon and ligament recipient who can walk again – every story is unique. Every story deserves to be told to honor the gift of tissue and corneas and build awareness of the importance of donation

People have found that sharing stories of their lost loved ones helps their spirit live on, protects memories, and frequently brings comfort during the grieving process. People who have had their sight restored through a corneal transplant, or their health restored through tissue donation, often feel compelled to share their stories to raise awareness of the life-transforming impact of the gift of donation.

We recognize this process can be especially difficult for donor families, so we have developed a guide to help facilitate the story-sharing process. Sometimes, one finds their friends and families hesitant to talk about a person who they have lost. But many find that sharing their story actually brings them comfort.

A Guide for Donor Families – How to Tell your Story

Capturing stories of loved ones we have lost can preserve their memory and if saved, impart their legacy to the generations that follow. The questions and ideas below can be useful in preserving someone’s memory with the beauty of storytelling. You can either answer these questions yourself in a journal or conduct audio-recorded interviews with your friends and family.

  • This exercise can bring up many different emotions and some can be painful. Block out plenty of time and remember you may need some quiet time afterward.
  • Remember to allow the interviewee to talk through their whole thought. If you have questions ask but try not to interrupt. Instead, you can take notes to capture what the person is saying and write down possible questions you may have.
  • If you choose to audio record the stories you can find an audio recorder for $20-$30. If you have a microphone for your computer you could record directly on the computer or on a smartphone.
  • If you buy a recorder make sure you have the ability to save the audio file and put them on your computer so you can preserve it without the possibility that you might record over the interview(s).
  • While audio recording, be sure to talk in a quiet place to avoid excessive background noise.
  • You can choose to have individual interviews or hold a group interview.

Below are questions that might be helpful in getting started.

  • Can you remember the first time you saw your loved one?
  • What is something that he/she did that makes you smile when you think about it?
  • How do you think your loved one would have liked to be remembered?
  • What is something that your loved one liked to look at?
  • If you could ask your loved one any question, what would it be?

The decision to write to your loved one’s cornea transplant recipient is a very personal choice.

Sometimes donor families choose to write to transplant recipients to share information about their loved one and themselves. For some, this sharing helps them in their grieving process.

It may help to know that transplant recipients consistently express appreciation for the letters that they receive and welcome learning about the person who is responsible for their renewed gift of sight.

If you do decide to write, please review the following helpful suggestions to keep in mind.

Provide general information

  • Use first names only. Do not use street addresses, phone numbers, e-mails, city names, or names of hospitals and physicians.
  • Include information you feel comfortable sharing about your loved one, yourself and family members. This could include occupation, hobbies and any special interests.
  • Write about what made your loved one special and things that they enjoyed doing.
  • You may include the state (not city) in which you live.
  • Since the religion of the recipient is unknown, please consider this if you are including religious comments.
  • Sign your first name only.

All identities are kept anonymous and confidential

Place your card or letter in an unsealed envelope. On a separate sheet of paper, include your full name, your loved one’s name and your relation to them, and the date of the donation. Mail all contents to the address below.

Lions World Vision Institute
1200 6th Ave, Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98101

For further information about writing to your loved one’s cornea recipient, volunteer opportunities, or bereavement resources in your area, please contact:

Family Services


Or email

Will the transplant recipient write back?

You may or may not get a response to your letter. Some transplant recipients like to wait for their surgery to heal somewhat before writing. Others feel overwhelmed with emotion at the gift they’ve been given and have difficulty expressing their gratitude through written communication. It could take several months or even years before they feel comfortable writing.

Again, the decision to write is a personal one. The choice is yours to make.

All correspondence will be reviewed by the Family Services Manager to ensure confidentiality. Afterwards, it will be forwarded to the recipient.

This process could take as long as three weeks, so please allow extra time in the event that your correspondence is time sensitive.

In some circumstances, international policy may prohibit correspondence between donor families and transplant recipients and forwarding your letter may not be possible.  If this is the case, you will be informed.