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 definite diagnosis for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Second, brain donation provides valuable information for scientists and researchers that will help solve questions of dementia. These insights enable scientists to constantly test new ideas and advance discoveries. Lastly, it helps improve treatment for future patients fighting Alzheimer's disease and other dementia.

Who may donate?

Any individual over age 18 years of age, including persons with or without memory 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 members brain for research?

The consent is only legally binding when signed after death. The legally authorized representative (usually, the next of kin) may give consent to donate brain tissue following the death of a donor.

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 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 Institute for Healthy Aging Brain Bank at UNT Health Science Center for future investigations by scientists and researchers.

Researchers look under the microscope for brain changes or biological markers characteristic of Alzheimer's disease and/or other dementias. 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 person 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 physician will receive a report of the findings.

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:

Kim Brown, RN
Brain Bank Coordinator
Institute 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



This page was last modified on November 8, 2018