Why Donate?

Why might a person choose to become an organ donor for research? Some individuals suffering from a neurological disorder, might like the opportunity to aid research that will help others with the same condition. This desire to help others especially applies to those with inherited neurological disorders. People with inherited disorders frequently want to help researchers find new ways of preventing or treating the disease so that their children or grandchildren may be spared. Another benefit of organ donation is that, upon request, the family will receive a copy of the microscopic examination of the donated tissue which will confirm or negate the clinical diagnosis. In the case of inherited disorders, this information can be very important to family members.

The Human Brain and Spinal Fluid Resource Center (HBSFRC)

Still others with no family history of neurological disorders might want to be an organ donor for transplants, but unfortunately do not meet the criteria. The Center, unlike organ donation for transplants, does not have an age limit. People of all ages, regardless of previous medical conditions, are encouraged to consider tissue donation for research. It is important for scientists to have tissue from individuals without neurological disorders so that they can more precisely determine what went wrong in the brain tissue of individuals who had neurological diseases. The Center does have a few criteria. Brain tissue from people with active tuberculosis, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or people who were on a respirator prior to the time of death cannot be accepted.

The number of people diagnosed with neurological diseases is rapidly rising. Even with improved clinical research methods such as genetic linkage studies or PET and CAT scans, MRI and other imaging techniques, our understanding of the biochemistry of the brain is best achieved through the use of postmortem human brain tissue. With a vast array of scientific tools and the brain tissue provided by the Center, scientists are working hard to combat devastating neurological diseases. Scientists know that they can count on the Center as a valuable source of brain tissue that will allow them to accelerate their efforts in finding new approaches to treatments and prevention of neurological disorders. Since one brain can provide tissue for studies by numerous researchers throughout the world, organ donation for research provides a priceless gift to humanity.

Gift Of Hope

To become an organ donor for research, one can enroll in the Center’s “Gift of Hope” Anatomical Donor Program. Enrolling in the “Gift of Hope” Program allows the Center’s personnel to make arrangements for tissue harvesting upon death, which will expedite the donation process. Pre-enrollment is not required, but is recommended because tissue is most beneficial to scientists when the time between death and tissue removal is kept as short as possible. Pre-enrollment is not binding; and a decision to donate can be changed. There is no cost to the donor or the donor’s family.