We’ve all heard of donating your body to science, but why do some people choose to donate only their brain?
Many of us may have a close family member who suffers or has suffered from a neurological condition and wished heartily that we might do something to help them, or others like them.
But few realise that there is something you can do to help research into conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimerss, Autism or Multiple Sclerosis – you can donate your brain to one of the dedicated brain banks in the UK.
Some decide to donate their brain tissue as they suffer from a neurological condition and wish to contribute to its study.
But even if your own brain is completely healthy, researchers need healthy brains to use as ‘control’ subjects – for comparison with the brains of those affected by neurological conditions. In fact, the important healthy tissue is hardest to get hold of for vital medical research.
Of course, the first step to take if you are considering donating any part of your body to medical research is to speak to your closest family or friends and let them know what you want. But that in itself will not be enough.
Although verbal consent used to be enough to donate your body to science, this is no longer the case. And it will not be possible for your loved ones to carry out your wishes if you haven’t put the requisite paperwork in place ahead of time.
If you do want to donate your brain to scientific research and help to cure debilitating illnesses – even after you have gone – then the first step would be to contact a local brain bank and they can provide the initial consent paperwork.
It is then highly recommended that you lodge a copy of your paperwork with your will, along with any particular requests (ie, that your brain be used to research one specific condition), and of course that you inform your nearest and dearest of your wishes to avoid any disputes after your death.
So although it might seem odd to being thinking about brain donation at Christmas, this Christmas will be one among many when people all around you are living with the reality of neurological disease. And we could all help them without even really trying, by planning for when we are gone.
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This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.