Brain Donation - FAQ

Who can become a Brain Donor?

Anyone can be a donor - irrespective of if you have a disease of the central nervous system or not, because for research purposes, one does not only need tissue samples from ill donors, but also from healthy ones for comparison.
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How to become a Brain Donor?

Anyone who is ready to aid the research of the central nervous system by donating tissue, must, according to national law, give his consent or written consent must be given by a relative. For doctors it is very important to know who has decided to help so they can act quickly when push comes to shove.

Upon request we will send you further information as well as an informed consent for autopsy and tissue donation.
Please call or send an e-mail to the BNE office or to your national BNE representative.

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Why are Brain Banks necessary?

Disorders of the central nervous system (CNS) are important causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide and have a highly significant impact on societal welfare. Many of these disorders remain untreatable despite recent progress in understanding their pathogenesis, and the need for further research is as great as ever.
During the last 150 years or so, human autopsy brains have served as a vital resource for the study of human CNS diseases and have contributed to most groundbreaking research in this field. Recent methodological advances in the wake of the human genome project, including genomics, proteomics, laser capture and cell fractionation studies, have galvanised research progress in many fields and there is now huge interest in applying these methods to human brain tissue.
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How does the donation happen?

The body of the deceased person is not disfigured by the donation. Usually the donation procedure takes only about an hour, sometimes, depending on the circumstances also two or three hours.

BrainNet adheres to the legal regulations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS). A subsequent laying out of the body is therefore not hindered by the procedure.

A part of the donated tissue is prepared for a fine tissue and biochemical analysis and then analysed, to allow the creation of a secure diagnosis. The written report of the findings is then sent to the treating physician. The relatives can inform themselves as to the results of the analysis with him.

The rest of the tissue is stored for neuroscientific research projects within BrainNet. In this way you can contribute your part to support national and internationally based research in the areas of biochemical and genetic problem sets. The material is only shared amongst proven research groups and it is never used for commercial purposes.

By the way: Neither you or your relatives will incur any costs.

The handling of the personal data and finding reports of the donor are carried out in strict accordance with the regulations of the data protection legislation as well as the doctors oath of silence.

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About autopsy

An autopsy (also called post-mortem examination) entails an extensive external and internal examination of the body of the deceased person. It is performed by a specially trained physician, a pathologist or a neuropathologist. 

The examination can include all organs (autopsy of the entire body) or only certain organs (partial autopsy). In an autopsy of the entire body the brain and spinal cord as well as tissue probes from the organs are resected. In a partial autopsy only the brain and spinal cord are removed. A partial autopsy is about an hour in duration, autopsy of the entire body takes 3-4 hours.

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