1,000 Extra Days, a Million Thanks

Today, 2/4/2010, marks the one thousandth extra day of LIFE that I’ve been given by way on an anonymous donor, who passed away on May 10, 2007. This persons heart was transplanted into my body, on May 11, 2007. It was a heart transplant that not only saved my life, but truly changed me forever. May God forever BLESS my donor and my donor’s family! 

I’m a “numbers” guy. I enjoy math, statistics, trends, averages, you name it. The number, 1,000, is such a nice round number. Back in 2007, some months after my transplant, I sent a thank you to my donor family, through the proper channels. I never heard back, but I was determined that I would write again at possibly a less painful time, and the “Thousand Days” just kind of popped into my head. 

When I wrote my original thank you, it took me forever. First, the pain of losing a loved one so recently has to be considered. Then there are many limitations what can / can’t be said in correspondence with a donor’s family. It’s all for privacy & protection of both the donor and the recipient. I wrote that first letter about 200 times, before declaring “enough was enough” and I sent it, through channels. I never heard back from the family, but that’s not unusual. I’m not sure of the exact statistics, but I’ve heard that only 5% to 15% do hear back. But, that’s not the goal. The goal is to let that family KNOW that someone out there cares and gives thanks daily for such an AWESOME gift. 

A few of months ago I noted at that time, that my next “clinical visit” would be a little more than a week before my 1,000th day anniversary. I decided to have my letter ready to take with me, so it could be sent through the proper channels. It took me a while to write, and I made many changes ~ always trying to keep the donor family’s emotions in mind. When I was close to having my letter completed, a very nice woman saw one of my posts here (click here to see post) and we started a nice conversation in regard to thank you’s to donor families. I sent her what I had written and she liked it, and that helped me a LOT. (Thanks Deb) 

My beautiful wife helped me pick out a card, and made a small change to the letter and last week I did, indeed, take it along, to go through the channels, to my donor family. 

This is what I wrote ~ 

One Thousand Days, a Million Thoughts of You! 

To my donor family ~  

As I sit here and write this, I am approaching one thousand days of a new life. It’s a life where each and every day is not simply “ordinary”, but each and every day is a very special gift. I look at each day as a gift and a chance to do something nice for someone else. Each day is a day filled with giving thanks to my heart donor and my donor’s family.  

When I think of this gift that I have received, I do get emotional. It’s bittersweet, yet I feel a connection, which I honor with never-ending thankfulness and gratitude. I have my real, very wonderful family, but I also have a family that has given me something precious, something so incredible, and it’s the ultimate gift ~ The gift of life. 

My new heart beats with a wonderful, strong pace. My new heart has allowed me to spend extra time with my lovely wife as well as my son and his family, which now includes two fabulous grand-kids. I also volunteer to help inspire others, to give some hope. 

As I approach this one thousand day milestone, I look forward to many, many more days, yet never forgetting my donor & donor family …. Taking each day separately, enjoying it to the fullest and giving thanks for this very special gift I’ve received. 

I honor my donor daily and give thanks ~ a million times. 

With heartfelt thanks, D and family 


Thank you, for my LIFE!!!



About DAP

I am a heart transplant recipient and these are my stories and thoughts. My desire is to assist others pre or post heart transplant in anyway possible. Please feel free to contact me if you have a question.
This entry was posted in General, Heart Transplant and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to 1,000 Extra Days, a Million Thanks

  1. Rise' says:

    Beautiful Letter Don

    Thank you for expressing how you feel. I hope that your letter will inspire more recipients to write thank you letters to their donor families.

    Your friend

  2. Meagan says:


    Congrats on you 1000 days of extra life. You sound like my husband who counted every single day I was in the hospital (63). I should get him to calculate my days of life.

    Your letter is wonderful and I am certain your donor family will be happy to receive it.

    In my last letter from my donor’s mom she mentioned that it helped her immensely to hear from me. It is almost two years and she continues to grieve for her wonderful child, but she said that she is now working at getting her life back. Her second letter really took away any doubts that I should write her. I am now extremely comfortable about writing many more letters to this wonderful mom. I know my letters have helped her. It took her a while to reply to my first two. I have written to her four times.

    I encourage all recipients to write their donor families. Even if they may not receive a reply, I am positive their letters will be well received by the families.


  3. Congratulations my friend. I am closing in on 3 years on my heart transplant – February 21st. You are right. It is a special gift and one that I thank the Good Lord for eveyday.

    I have been fortunate to meet and establish a relationship with my donor family and it is an awesome experience. I hope you get to experience it one day, too.

    Take care of your gift,

  4. I really enjoyed reading your blog! I can’t believe the snow pictures….amazing! (I am from NC) I will keep reading!

  5. deb says:

    Thanks for the thanks Don! As I hope you know, you are helping me through this by seeing things from your side.

  6. my2ndheartbeat says:


    For me, just hearing from any donor family is awesome. We both go through our individual emotions, but it’s good to see and hear your side.

    Ultimately, we are here for each other and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Many hugs to all of my friends!!!

  7. Steve says:

    Hi Dan,

    I just came across your blog. I am approaching 7 months from my heart transplant. I am just beginning to write my donor letter. I have been working on it for awhile. I just can’t seem to get it right. I don’t want to ramble or simply write to much but I want them to know how sorry I am for their loss but somehow let them know how thankful I am. Anyway, I really enjoy your comments. I am on transplant buddies and transplant friends.

    • my2ndheartbeat says:


      I know how you feel. I’ve written 2 letters to my donor family and they never seem “perfect” to me. In the end, they are “me” sending the thoughts of my borrowed heart!! I am on Transplant Buddies and TransplantFriends as well …… DAP1122.


  8. Pingback: Two Thousand Days | My2ndheartbeat

  9. Holly Koiro says:

    So beautifully written. I, too, wrote many many letters…mostly in my head in the shower every morning and like you they never seemed just right. I finally decided my best was good enough and finally wrote a letter I was proud to send. I read and reread it from a donor’s perspective. That was a year ago and I have never gotten a reply. I have missed feelings about that. But continue to be daily grateful for this wonderful gift.

    • my2ndheartbeat says:

      Holly,Thanks for your kind words. I can truly relate about not hearing back after sending your letter. For me, I’ll never give up hope ….. things change, life changes ….. the our hero families may reach out at any time.
      ~ DAP

  10. Pingback: 2,500 Days and Nights of Gratitude From a Transplanted Heart | My2ndheartbeat

  11. Pingback: 3,000 Days ~ An Untold Story | My2ndHeartBeat

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