Texas Organ Sharing Alliance offers support for families whose loved one has given the precious Gift of Life through organ donation. While we cannot take away the pain of the loss, we hope to provide services that will promote healing during the grief journey.
For those who are learning to live with their loss, our staff will supply each family with support, care and guidance through phone calls, correspondence, activities and events to honor their loved one. We are able to assist families with bereavement materials and direct them to local support groups. Please contact us by calling: 210.614.7030 or toll-free at 866.685.0277.

Donor Families

Donor Stories

Daniel
Daniel was born on New Year's Day, 1986 and five days later he was adopted. His family welcomed him with his big Texas smile into their hearts and home. As he grew, he was always very caring and loved by many. His favorite saying was "I got your back." In retrospect, being an organ donor is the ultimate "got your back" and his family knew that is what Daniel would have wanted. After high school, Daniel took entry level jobs, learning to live away from home and making decisions about college. But his plans were cut short on a bright January Saturday by a common driving error, a split second that would change lives forever.

Organ donation wasn't the first thing Daniel's family thought of but when it was mentioned, it seemed that a bright light entered their hearts. The family had heard of donation before as Daniel's brother Jonathan had received a human aortic valve transplant seven years prior. In the warm, supportive process of meeting with an organ procurement nurse, they agreed to anything Daniel could share. On February 5, 2005, at only 19 years old, Daniel was a successful donor of his liver, both kidneys and his pancreas. "We tell people that other than our faith in God, Daniel being a successful donor has been the greatest comfort we could have in the loss of our son," his family said.

"Daniel's life was not lost, it was shared."
Justin
It's a tragic scene no one wants to come upon, two SUVs collide, one wrecked beyond recognition. Passerby Justin was compelled to stop to try and help. He soon finds a 22- year-old woman fighting for her life. Justin, who family members describe as the "kind of guy always willing to help," jumped into action. While others looked on, he sat and held the young woman's hand encouraging her until her final breath. As news of the horrific accident spread, so did the unofficial naming of Justin as "The Good Samaritan."

Sadly, just one month later, Justin himself was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident. Once again, his humanity for others was revealed. Knowing Justin's desire to help others, his family said yes when approached about the gift of organ donation. Justin saved four lives. For his family, knowing his legacy would continue, gave them strength to carry on.

In December 2015, Justin's family met Radu, the man who received the heart of their hero. The meeting was full of tears, joy and hugs from all, including Justin's son. Justin's mom feels they could not have asked for a better recipient and are looking forward to visits with their new extended family.
Cooper
In August, 2014, a swimming accident took the life of young Cooper. "Cooper was such a powerhouse. He was handsome, sweet, smart, athletic, and all boy - adventurous and a dare devil," said Cooper's mom Christine.

A well-loved and popular kid, in his short 15 years he spread more love, laughter, and life than anyone could have ever imagined. So it was only natural he continue his incredible spirit and legacy through the gift of organ donation.

"Truly, I had no idea the impact his gift of life would have," said Christine. "I simply knew that because he was Cooper he would have it no other way." Cooper's gifts gave five individuals a second chance at life and continues to inspire hope to the 11,000 Texans who continue to wait for a life-saving transplant.
Dillon
Dillon was 19 years old when he went to be with the Lord in Heaven in June of 2014 as the result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

Dillon was a friend with the ability to see good in all people. His love for family and for sports, especially the Texas Longhorns, were both admirable and contagious. "He always wanted to help those in need," said his father, Dale. "This was never more evident than when he voluntarily signed up to be organ donor."

Dillon registered his decision to be an organ donor on his license at 16 years old, then again upon renewal at 18 years old. His gifts have improved the quality of life in seven people as well as countless others that received his eyes, bone and tissue.

His parents have found comfort in their faith and knowing that his spirit lives on in the individuals who received as well as in their hearts.
Robert "Bobby"
Donation and transplantation was nothing new for Robert, better known as "Bobby." One of his cousins was a transplant recipient. "He saw what a great difference it made in her quality of life," said Bobby's mother, Yvonne. "I knew this was what he would want."

Bobby was a family man and loved spending time with his daughter, Cheyenne, and son, Davin and enjoyed his service as a San Antonio Police Officer for seven years and a member of the Honor Guard Division.

Sadly, on December 8, 2013, while in pursuit of two suspects that had been committing armed robberies and terrorizing the south side of town, he sustained a head injury. He fought bravely for 12 days before succumbing to his injury in December of 2013.

His act of heroism caught national news. His casket draped in honors only the brass of police recognized as "Hero" receive: a United States flag. Bobby is a "Hero" not only to his community but to those who received a second chance at life.

His heart, kidneys and liver were donated.
Jeramie
Jeramie was an 18-year-old high school senior, an athlete and band member. He was involved in a fatal vehicle accident in March of 2003. "About two weeks prior to his death we were watching a Discovery program about organ donation," recalled Jeramie's mom, Sylvia. "During a commercial break my husband and I asked Jeramie his opinion, 'Would you consider donation?'"

"Sure," he replied. "If I'm dead I don't need my organs anymore. Why not help someone else who needs them."

Two weeks later they would be approached to consider donating Jeramie's organs. "Because Jeramie believed in organ donation," said Gabriel, Jeramie's dad, "our family was able to make the decision to give the gift of life."

Jeramie's legacy is now a mission for the family as they encourage residents of the Rio Grande Valley to sign up as organ donors.

You can see them driving through town in their white Chevy Tahoe with its distinctive decal on the back windshield. The decal is in the shape of a green ribbon that reads, "My son Jeramie saved five lives. Don't take your organs to heaven, heaven knows we need them here."
Abby
Abby was a star basketball player in her town of Hidalgo. One evening in February of 2006 she played an amazing game - 19 baskets! But the excitement of the evening would be short-lived. On the way home with some friends the driver of the truck she was riding in lost control. Abby suffered severe head trauma. While in the hospital, her mom took note of her strong heart and asked Abby's dad if anything could be done to continue her legacy. Organ donation was the answer. Her parent's decision to donate allowed Abby to save six lives.
Carson
Carson was born and raised in Austin. Best friends with his younger sister, he was creative, funny and was known for his compassionate heart. After graduating from Texas Christian University with a degree in Advertising, Carson headed to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of making movies. In January of 2012 Carson was out with friends when he was struck by a car while crossing the street. Recalling his compassionate heart, his parents said yes to giving the gift of life. "I know he would have wanted others to use his organs for life, when he no longer could," Melisa, Carson's mom, said. "It gives us a sense of peace knowing others have lived because of our son's gift."
Scott
Scott died in August of 1998 at the age of nine after suffering a ruptured brain aneurysm. Scott was a sweet and mischievous boy - the middle of three children. He had the most amazing eyes and thoroughly enjoyed life. "When it was clear that Scott would not pull through this tragedy we were approached about donating his organs. There was no hesitation in saying yes," said Scott's mom, Pam. In the midst of grief, Scott's parents hoped through donation another family would avoid experiencing the loss of a loved one. "Over time, I do get comfort in thinking that other families are celebrating another birthday, another Christmas because of Scott's gift" remarked Pam. Scott's organs saved five lives.

Bereavement Support

A number of organizations may offer bereavement support in your area; we have
compiled a list of potential resources. While most are free, some may charge dues or fees
for their services. We recommend you reach out to an individual program and learn more
about what services may benefit you.

Austin>

For the Love of Christi

2306 Hancock Dr., Austin, TX 78756
512-467-2600 / www.fortheloveofchristi.org

Northwest Counseling & Wellness Center

12335 Hymeadow Dr. #300, Austin, TX 78750
512-250-9355 / www.ncwcaustin.com

My Healing Place

405 West 22nd St., Austin, TX 78705
512-472-7878 / www.myhealingplace.org

SAN ANTONIO>

Porter Loring Family Care Services

2119 Mannix Dr., San Antonio, TX 78217
210-227-8221 / www.porterloring.com/griefsupport

The Compassionate Friends

211 Roleto Dr., San Antonio, TX 78213
210-490-8855 / www.compassionatefriends.org

Children's Bereavement Center of San Antonio

205 W. Olmos Dr., San Antonio, TX 78212
www.cbcst.org

Rio Grande Valley>

Hope Family Health Center

2332 Jordan Rd. W, McAllen, TX 78503
956-994-3319 / www.hopefamilyhealthcenter.org

Children's Bereavement Center of Rio Grande Valley

2101 Pease St. #2D, Harlingen, TX 78550
956-368-4065 / www.cbcst.org/rio-grande-valley

Victims of Crime - Prevention & Restoration Program

416 South Alton Blvd., Alton, TX 78573
956-424-3276 / www.victimsofcrime.rgvez.org

Victims of Crime - Prevention & Restoration Program

107 W. 5th St., Rio Grande City, TX 78582
956-487-8752 / www.victimsofcrime.rgvez.org

NATIONAL RESOURCES>

United Way Helpline

The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families

P.O. Box 86852, Portland, OR 97286
866-775-5683 / www.dougy.org

GriefShare

P.O. Box 1739, Wake Forest, NC 27588
800-395-5755 / www.griefshare.org

National Center for Victims of Crime

2000 M St. NW #480, Washington, DC 20036
202-467-8700 / www.victimsofcrime.org

National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, Inc.

4960 Ridge Ave. #2, Cincinnati, OH 45209
888-818-7662 / www.pomc.com

INTERNET RESOURCES>

www.griefnet.org

An internet community of persons dealing with grief, death and major loss.

www.webhealing.com

An interactive grief website that offers discussion boards where visitors can discuss issues related to grief and healing.

www.bereavedparentsusa.org

A nationwide organization designed to aid and support bereaved parents and their families.

www.recover-from-grief.com

Offers resources to those who are grieving from suffering a loss.

www.sesamestreet.org/content/grief

Interactive grief website for children to help them understand grief.

BOOKS ABOUT GRIEF>

FOR CHILDREN

"Evere Anderson's Goodbye" by Lucille Cliffton
(Young boy experiences the death of his father) Ages 3-9

"Children Also Grieve: Talking about Death & Healing" by Linda Goldman
(Story about a dog in a family whose grandfather died) Ages 5-10

"Bart Speaks Out: Breaking the Silence on Suicide" by Linda Goldman
(A story and workbook dealing specifically with death by suicide) Ages 3-10

"When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death"
by Marc Brown & Laurie Krasny Brown
(Discusses what death is and customs surrounding death) Ages 5-12

"Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children"
by R.R. Ingpen & B. Mellonie. Ages 3-7

"A Birthday Present for Daniel: A Child's Story of Loss" by Juliet Rothman
(For those experiencing the death of a sibling) Ages 3-9

"When Families Grieve" by Sesame Street
(This kit includes a guide for parents, a Sesame Street DVD, and a children's story. It can be requested by emailing grief@sesameworkshop.org)

FOR TEENS

"Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers: How to Cope with Losing Someone You Love" by Earl Grollman
(Written for teenagers to explain what to expect when losing a loved one)

"The Grieving Teen: A Guide for Teenagers and Their Friends"
by Helen Fitzgerald

"Fire in My Heart, Ice in My Veins: A Journal for Teenagers Experiencing a Loss" by Enid Samuel-Traisman

FOR ADULTS

"Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss" by Pat Schwiebert
(After suffering a loss, a woman cooks up tear soup, blending ingredients of her life into the grieving process, also giving advice to those who are mourning)

"Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief" by Martha Hickman

"Good Grief" by Granger Westburg
(Offers helpful insights on the emotional and physical responses a person may experience during the natural process of grieving)

"Beyond Tears: Living A er Losing a Child" by Ellen Mitchell "Sibling Grief: Healing After the Death of a Sister or Brother" by P. Gill White

"Getting to the Other Side of Grief: Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse"
by Susan J. & Ed D. Zonnebelt-Smeenge

"For Those Who Give and Grieve: A Book for Donor Families"
by National Kidney Foundation

Writing The Recipient

As a donor family, you may decide to write a letter to the recipients of your loved one's organs. This is a personal decision, and you should not feel any pressure to act in one way or another. Sometimes, donor families choose to write to recipients to share information about their loved one and the decision to donate. For some families, sharing helps them with the grieving process. All correspondence is anonymous and identities are kept confidential. There is no time limit for sending a letter, and you may write at any time. Many choose to send a letter during the holidays, or an anniversary card. Others opt to send a "Thinking of You" card instead. Sometimes the hardest part is writing those first few words. If you want to write, but are having trouble or need more information about writing to recipients, please don't hesitate to call our office at 210.614.7030 or 866.685.0277.
If you decide to write, here are some suggestions and guidelines:

  • Only include information you are comfortable with sharing about yourself and your loved one. This may include occupation, hobbies, interests, or special things your loved one enjoyed. First names are welcome.
  • Please do not share last names, geographic locations, phone numbers, email addresses, social media pages, hospital names, physicians that helped you, etc. Due to TOSA's confidentiality policy, this information will be omitted if included in any letters.
  • You may want to briefly explain the circumstances that led to your loved one becoming a donor and how you made the decision to donate. You can also include how this decision has impacted you, your family, and community.

Other things to consider:
  • Use simple language.
  • If there is more than one recipient you may choose to write separate letters or use the same letter for all recipients.
  • Be thoughtful when using spiritual comments since the religion of the recipient(s) is unknown.

After you have completed your correspondence:
  • Place the letter or card in an unsealed envelope.
  • Include a separate sheet of paper with your full name, your loved one's full name, date of donation, and your contact information.

Mail to:
Donor Family Services
Texas Organ Sharing Alliance
8122 Datapoint Drive, Suite 200
San Antonio, TX 78229

Once your correspondence is received, it will be reviewed by the Donor Family Services Coordinator to ensure confidentiality. It will then be forwarded to the recipient's transplant center, reviewed by their social worker and forwarded to the recipient. Although we strive to complete this task quickly, this entire process may take several weeks before the letter reaches the recipient.

Will I hear from the recipients?
Keep in mind some recipients may send a response to your letter while others may not write back. This is their personal decision that could be made for various reasons. Many recipients state they feel overwhelmed with emotion and have difficulty expressing their gratitude in a letter, while others are continuing to heal and adjusting to their new lives as a transplant recipient. Most recipients have said that writing to their donor family is the most difficult thing they have ever done. Even if you never receive a letter, we hope you will take comfort in knowing that your loved one's gift has helped others.

Will I ever be able to meet the transplant recipients?
Contact between donor family members and recipients and their families has been reported to be a fulfilling experience for all parties. However, before initiating such contact, both the donor family and the recipient should take time to explore their feelings regarding direct contact.

TOSA will only allow direct, unedited communication between the donor family and recipient following an initial letter where both parties express a desire to have further communication. Both parties must sign a waiver releasing their right to confidentiality. After both waivers have been received, the exchange of personal information may be made and TOSA will no longer be involved in communication between you and this recipient. Please keep in mind this process must be done for each recipient.

Opportunities To honor

There is no greater gift than the gift of life. Without the generosity of our donors and their families this would not be possible. Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA) honors the generosity of our donor heroes and their families by coordinating opportunities throughout the year to reflect on the gifts they shared.

"Written with Love" Writing Workshop

For many families, there is a desire to communicate with the recipients of their loved one. TOSA offers the opportunity to share their feelings with the recipient through our correspondence program. This workshop will provide information and guidance in writing to the recipient(s).

"Grief and the Holidays" Workshop

As the holidays approach, traditional celebrations can cause feelings of loneliness, stress, sadness, and longing for their loved ones. We offer our holiday workshop in collaboration with the San Antonio Eye Bank, and GenCure to help address the "holiday blues" followed by an ornament decorating activity honoring donors throughout the holiday season.

"The Giving Tree" Ceremony

For those who are grieving, holidays can be an especially difficult time. Remember your loved ones during the holiday season by displaying an ornament decorated in their honor on "The Giving Tree." It will be displayed in a public space throughout the holiday season to commemorate organ, eye, and tissue donors.

"Messages in the Sky" Memorial Balloon Release

Specific to honor TOSA donors and their families who gave through organ donation, this gathering is an opportunity for families to meet one another, share stories and create friendships. You will also hear from the staff at TOSA and a recipient story describing the impact of donation. Concluding our program families will have a chance to write a message to their loved one and attach it to a balloon for release.

How To Volunteer

Join our dynamic team of transplant recipients, donor families, community partners and other donation supporters by becoming a Friends for Life volunteer. Motivated by their heart-felt personal stories, Friends for Life TOSA volunteers share the importance of registering as organ, eye and tissue donors on the state's official registry - Donate Life Texas. Throughout Central and South Texas, you'll find volunteers assisting with special events, giving educational presentations, sharing their experiences, and initiating activities with one goal in mind - to save lives.

As a volunteer you'll receive comprehensive training, supplies to promote donation and an official Donate Life Texas T-shirt. It's easy to join, please complete and submit the Volunteer profile and agreement. Have more questions? Contact us >
CONFIRMATION

THANK YOU!

We have received your application to become a Friends for Life volunteer. The Volunteer Coordinator will add you to our monthly emails and contact you soon regarding volunteer training. Until then feel free to view our current events. >

WELCOME TO FRIENDS FOR LIFE!

Volunteer Agreements

Release of Liability Agreement

In consideration for being permitted to participate as a volunteer in operational, administrative and/or other procedures (collectively, "Activities") at one or more facilities operated by Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA), and being fully aware of the risks inherent in these Activities, including the risks of physical injury, I, on my behalf and on behalf of my successors, do hereby release, indemnify and hold harmless TOSA, its representatives and all persons involved, my activities from any and all claims whatsoever, including claims for negligence which may arise from any injury, loss or damage, whether to me or to another, relating in any way to my activities.

Confidentiality Agreement

I understand and acknowledge that in my Activities at Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA), I hereby agree to consider all information confidential and proprietary in conduct of services provided for TOSA and agree not to disclose such information about TOSA, its staff, conversations, and any other information learned either directly or indirectly which is related and/or incidental to the services provided to any person or entity whatsoever outside TOSA.