For donor families
Donor Family Support
The support of a family or substitute decision maker can play a crucial part in a loved one’s final decision to donate. It’s important to recognize that it is a very difficult time for everyone involved.
Our donation coordinators and tissue bank specialists recognize that this is a difficult journey and are with you every step of the way. With the family member(s) permission, we offer the option of participating in the Donor Family Support Program. Each family member has the option of participating in one or all of the following:
- Phone call following organ and/or tissue recovery
- Follow up letters from the Family Support Liaison (at three, six and 12 months)
- Grief and bereavement resources
- Donor Family Experience survey (satisfaction survey)
- Invitation to Gift of Life Celebration (donor recognition ceremony)
- Correspondence from transplant recipients (if/when received). Please note that changes to the organ and tissue legislation will impact recipient and family contact. Read details below for more information.
Our Donor Family Support program is led by our Family Support Liaison who is available to help families navigate their grief and bereavement journey. Every family’s experience is unique and there can be many complex emotions. The Liaison can assist families with finding resources to help them along their way toward healing. We can provide brochures, a list of suggested books, and contact information for grief and bereavement groups in your region.
Family Support Liaison:
Give and Receive News
Some families may want to communicate with the organ or tissue transplant recipients and share some information about their loved one. Writing to a recipient is a personal decision and the timing of when you write (if at all) may vary. What may be right for you may not be right for someone else.
Currently, we offer support to families who may want to communicate with recipients. Before it is sent, the letter is reviewed to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for both the recipient and donor family.
When the new legislation comes into effect (January 18, 2021), it may be possible for donor families, live donors, and recipients to have direct contact with each other, if they wish and when certain criteria are met. This contact could take many forms, such as a phone call, a face-to-face meeting, or releasing personal identifying information so you can email or connect with one another directly instead of through anonymous correspondence through the Legacy of Life Program.
Direct contact can happen at least one year after the date of a donation or transplant. Our role is to help facilitate this process.
We support donor families, live donors, and transplant recipients to make the choices that are best for them about much or how little personal information they choose to share.
The direct contact process will be open to those who receive their transplant on or after the day the new legislation comes into effect.
Donor Family Stories
If you are interested in raising awareness about donation in Nova Scotia please contact us to receive an information package and promotional items. You can spread the word by having an information display in your workplace, at your place of worship a book club or a community event. We may also be able to provide a speaker for events - be sure to let us know!
Contact us at DonorFamilySupport@nshealth.ca
National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week (NOTDAW)
Each year in the month of April, one week is designated to raise awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation across Canada. Awareness events, advertising, registration drives, news stories – it's a busy month and a great opportunity to have conversations about organ donation with family and friends. Please check back to see what is planned for this year. If you are interested in hosting your own awareness raising event during this time please let us know.
Gift of Life Ceremony
The Gift of Life Ceremony was initiated in 2004 as an annual recognition ceremony to honour donors and their gift of donation. Donor families from the past year prior to six months before the event, who wish to attend, are invited with an average attendance of 200 participants. Families are invited to submit photos and brief stories of their loved ones and these stories and photos are displayed during the event. Guest speakers consist of transplant recipients and recognition certificates are handed out during the ceremony to the donor families.