Heart Transplant: Bob's Story

"You gave me life, you gave me peace and you gave me a profound sense of gratitude and understanding."
- Bob, to his donor family

Bob (pictured) received a heart transplant in 2007. The following is an initial draft of a letter he is writing to his donor family.


Bob, heart transplant recipient, UW Hospital and ClinicsApril is national donate life month. Seven months ago, I had a heart transplant.


I have not yet written to my donor family but am in the process. What is written below is a rough draft but I thought I would share it in hopes that it might encourage others to support and encourage organ donation:


Dear Donor Family:


On August 21, 2007 I received a heart from your loved one. You, he and it saved my life. I promise I will take care of this gift far better than I took care of my own natural organ.


Each day before I get up I take a moment to feel this marvelous gift steadily thumping in my chest. It is alive and healthy and has created in me a new appreciation for life. More than that, though, I am always aware that this heart is not mine. It belongs to the kind of person all of us should aspire to be.


Moreover, he came from the kind of people all of us should aspire to be. Maybe it is my imagination but since receiving my new heart, I feel a serenity I have never before felt. I feel a concern for others far greater than I thought possible. I feel a responsibility to all organ donors and their families to do what I can to honor their loved ones by committing the rest of my life to promoting organ donation.


I was very sick prior to my transplant. I could no longer get around very well because my heart just could not pump efficiently enough. I knew I was dying and as a 68-year-old man with COPD and B-positive blood, I did not think a transplant was in the cards. But it was.


As a result, I believe that God saved me for a reason and that reason was to promote organ donation to honor you and your loved one. I appreciate the simple things now, much more than before. I look forward every morning to seeing my loving wife and my caregiver, Robin.


Staying in contact with family and friends has become more important than ever before. I enjoy sitting in our sunroom watching the sunrise and sunset. Each day gives me a new thrill because each day is a gift from you and from God. I don't know if we will ever meet and although I am likely to be at a loss for words, I would like to thank you personally. You gave me life, you gave me peace and you gave me a profound sense of gratitude and understanding. I am a new person and I hope that in your grief it helps to know that a part of your loved one is alive and that with his help I am trying to live my life in a way that would make you proud.


God bless,