What Is Brain Donation?

Picture of a brain

What is "Brain Donation?"

Brain donation is post-mortem (after death) harvesting of the donor's brain for research purposes.

Scientists use donated brain tissue to cure degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, dementia, Lewy-body, Parkinson's, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, and other disorders.

Where Does the Donor's Brain Go After Donation?

Donated brains are transferred to one of the brain banks our Firm works with, which currently includes the University of Florida Medical School Brain Bank and the University of Colorado Medical School Brain Bank.

How Does the Brain Donation Process Work?

Upon death, the donor's brain is quickly harvested by a "dinar," i.e., a technician specially trained to remove the donor's brain for research and study.

The donated brain's harvesting typically occurs at our Boca Raton facility. However, harvesting can also occur at a funeral home.

Not every potential donor qualifies for brain donation. There is a registration and screening process to qualify potential donors for the program.

Does the Donor Need to be Preregistered for Brain Donation Prior to Death?

Not necessarily…but registration must take place immediately after death. Time is of the essence to participate in our brain donation program.

Therefore, it is highly advisable to be preregistered for brain donation before death.

Is There a Cost to Participating in Our Brain Donation Process?

No. Our Firm, and the brain bank, pay all of the costs of brain donation.

Why Do Donors Participate in Brain Donation?

There are two reasons brain donors participate in our program (and other brain donation programs).

  1. To "pay it forward" to future generations to help researchers determine the causes, best treatments, and cures for neurodegenerative disorders.
  2. To obtain a free neurological autopsy report which will confirm the neurological diagnosis of the donor.

Who Qualifies for Brain Donation?

Almost everyone that is 18 years old or older qualifies for brain donation.

Researchers need healthy brains as well as neurologically diseased brains.

Reasons for non-qualification include certain communicable diseases, brain cancer, and the inability to harvest the prospective donor's brain quickly after death.

Brain Research laboratory

What is a Brain Autopsy?

A brain autopsy is a specialized, costly autopsy performed by a forensic neurological pathologist (a cross-trained doctor that is both a pathologist and a neurologist). Typically, brain autopsies cost $10,000 to $20,000.

Families of brain donors receive a free brain autopsy report.

How do Researchers Learn About Alzheimer's and/or Other Diseases from Brain Donation?

Researchers study donated brains to determine the amounts and locations of amyloid plaques and tau tangles — the hallmarks of Alzheimer's. They also look for signs of other types of dementia and neurological disease. This analysis — possible only when brain tissue is studied under a microscope—answers essential questions asked by both researchers and the family of the donor.

Researchers will better understand the relationship between clinical test results, fluid and imaging biomarkers, and the brain changes detected in the donated tissue. These insights enable scientists to constantly test new ideas and advance discoveries that may one day result in effective therapies.

Families receive a full report on the type and levels of pathology in their loved one's brain and gain insights into how these brain changes may have contributed to dementia.