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The National Institute on Aging would like you to donate your brain

Here is a request you don’t get every day. The National Institute on Aging is looking for brain donors. For details go to:

In brief, anyone over age 18 may choose to donate their brain after death. This includes people who have a brain disorder and those with healthy brains. In fact, both are needed for this important research. Donations from people without symptoms of brain disease provide all-important insights into what’s considered normal aging of the brain and certain brain mechanisms that may protect against disease. Put simply, healthy brains provide researchers with critical models for comparison in understanding what’s gone wrong in cases of disease.

Researchers also need brains from a diverse group of people representing, for example, different races and ethnicities, genders, geographic locations, and sexual orientations.

The Brain Donation Process

The following are general steps in brain donation. Note though that the process may be different for particular study participants.

  • Step 1: Enroll in a study or brain donation program and complete the consent form. Familiarize yourself with the brain donation process.

  • Step 2: Talk to your family about your decision, share what you’ve learned, and agree upon the best point or points of contact.

  • Step 3: At time of death, your points of contact should connect with the donation coordinator within 2 hours of death.

  • Step 4: The donation center (or brain bank) arranges for transport of the body to the donation site.

  • Step 5: The brain is removed and sent to a brain bank for autopsy.

  • Step 6: The body is returned to the family for burial or cremation and related ceremonies.

  • Step 7: A brain autopsy is performed and, if requested, a report made available to the family in 3 to 9 months.

  • Step 8: Brain tissue is processed and preserved and made available to scientists for future research.

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