Frequently Asked Questions

What is brain donation?

Brain tissue donation is a precious gift for several reasons in that it will help researchers to increase knowledge about dementing illnesses, their causes, and possible treatments. First, examining the brain after death is the only definitive diagnosis for many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Second, brain donation provides valuable information for scientists and researchers that will help solve questions of brain aging and aging-related neurodegenerative diseases. These insights enable scientists to test new ideas and advance discoveries continually. Lastly, it helps improve treatment for future patients fighting brain aging and aging-related neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Who may donate?

Any individual over 18 years of age, including persons with or without neurological problems, may donate. Donation at any time is always encouraged due to the many benefits it provides researchers and future patients.

Who grants permission for the donation of my or my family member's brain for research?

To participate in the study, two consents will need to be obtained: the first will be for participation in the study, and the second will be for brain recovery. The subject or their legal decision-maker will give the study consent. The subject’s next of kin, or other designated entity, will give consent for brain recovery when death is imminent and/or after death.

Should I inform my next-of-kin of my decision to become a donor?

Yes. It is important to inform those involved with your care and end-of-life planning about your decision to donate your brain. Remember to include brain donation wishes in your end-of-life arrangements, such as in medical advance directives and information for your funeral home. Your next of kin, or legally authorized representative, will call us upon passing and will be required to give consent to the donation.

What happens in the donation process?

After death, the brain tissue is collected as soon as possible without disfigurement to the donor. The family can plan an open casket or other traditional funeral arrangements. We will do our best not to interfere with or delay any arrangements the family may have.

What happens to the brain once it has been donated?

An experienced medical professional will respectfully perform a brain autopsy. Brain tissue will be stored carefully in the controlled facility of the Center for Healthy Aging Brain Bank at UNT Health Science Center for future investigations by scientists and researchers.

Researchers will use state of the art technology to detect any changes or biological markers of brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases. They then associate these brain changes with your reported symptoms. All of this information will help them gain a better understanding of disease cause, progression, and treatment options.

Is there any cost associated with donation?

No, the procedure will be done without any costs to you or your family. The study will pay for all expenses involved with the donation. Please note that funeral expenses remain the responsibility of the family.

Is brain donation compatible with my religion?

Most religions and ethical traditions accept and support brain donation and believe that donating an organ is a personal choice. We encourage you to seek guidance from your spiritual leader if you have questions specific to your faith.

Does registering as a donor alter my medical treatment?

No, registering as a brain donor does not change a person’s medical treatment in any way.

Will the family receive a report about the findings?

The donor’s Next-of-Kin will receive the research diagnostic report.

What happens if death occurs at night or on the weekend?

Please contact the Brain Bank Answering Service at 817-294-6208.

For more information, please contact:

Elizabeth Fernandez
Assistant Brain Bank Coordinator
Center for Healthy Aging

For after-hours or weekend donation, please contact Brain Bank Answering Service at 817-294-6208.

To read more on brain donation, please visit: The NIH NeuroBioBank