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About Brain Donation

Extended family sitting outdoors smiling

Why is brain donation important?

At present, a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is made by examining brain tissue. An autopsy provides accurate and comprehensive information about the cause of the clinical diagnosis of dementia during life.  Many families find that receiving the final pathological diagnosis provides closure and resolution to the caregiving experience and important information about their own medical risks.

In addition, the autopsy contributes greatly to our scientific understanding of the effects of the disease on the brain and may lead to better treatments in the future.

Finally, brain donation provides the opportunity for the individual and their family to provide a gift of hope to future generations in the fight against Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.

Who can donate brain tissue?

Participants enrolled at the UCI Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) are eligible for autopsy study. Annual visits and longitudinal follow-up are a part of the program, so participants in this program will be pre-registered for brain donation. Brain donation by non-research participants is, unfortunately, far less valuable to scientific study.

How can brain donation be arranged?

A signed informed consent form is all that is needed to be enrolled in the program.  Without the signed consent, the legal next-of-kin must authorize the brain autopsy before it can be performed.

Does brain donation go against religious teaching?

Grandmother-and-grandchild-200x300To donate your brain for the betterment of humanity and to improve the lives of others in the future is compatible with the teachings of nearly all religions.  If you are concerned about brain donation and your religious faith, we encourage you to discuss this issue with your spiritual leader.

What effect does brain donation have on funeral arrangements?

A brain autopsy will have little or no effect on funeral arrangements.  The procedure is performed very carefully and does not interfere with plans for open casket viewing or cremation.

What happens to the brain once it has been donated?

The brain is examined by a pathologist to establish a definitive diagnosis.  This process is quite complex and can take several months to complete.  Once finished, a comprehensive report is sent to the participant’s family.  After the examination, portions of the brain will be stored for future investigations by researchers at the UCI ADRC and Alzheimer’s disease specialty centers throughout the country.  The identity of all brain donors remains strictly confidential.

Strides in research can only be made through the generosity of others. It is through these gifts that we can help promote research and fuel determination to find answers and a cure.

Brain Donation Program

1211 Gillespie Neuroscience
Irvine, CA 92697-4540
Telephone: 949.824.5032
Pager: 714.506.4004
Fax: 949.824.2071