Brain donation for multiple sclerosis research optimizes the chances that a cure might be discovered. It might result in a vaccine or other preemptive strike to prevent the disability from starting in the first place. As addressed in a previous column, there is a shortage of brains for MS-related research.
A reader named Michele mentioned Rocky Mountain MS Center Tissue Bank (RMMSCTB), which accepts donations from anywhere in the U.S. However, the choke point of the system is having a pathologist ready to go when it’s time to remove the brain.
As stated on its website, becoming an enrolled donor with the RMMSCTB may not guarantee that tissue will be accepted for donation. “The RMMCS Tissue Bank will try to accommodate every incoming donation; however, not all circumstances are optimal for tissue acquisition. Time constraints and location of a local pathologist are often the largest issues. Potential donors can combat these issues by locating a pathologist in their area of residence, and instructing their next-of-kin to call the on-call tissue bank coordinator as soon as possible after death, or before, if death is imminent.”
Organ transplantation not advised for people with MS
Oh my gosh, RMMSCTB does not advise organ donation! Maybe this has always been the case, but I didn’t know it: What if one has already willed one’s body for transplantation?
Since a virus may cause MS, the RMMSCTB does not recommend donating organs such as eyes, kidneys or other organs for transplantation.
The RMMSCTB center does pay for some costs, including tissue transportation. Based on the emphasis on tissue, and the time delays they allow, it does not sound as if they take the whole brain. Rather, they just have a local pathologist take tissue samples, which is still a good idea.
Once again, though, no funds are provided toward a funeral for the remains.
Please note: Sites I have checked all make the point that brain or brain tissue donation DOES NOT disfigure the body, including the head. This means that after the autopsy, open-casket funerals are possible. This fact might be very important to you or to your next of kin in charge of facilitating the donation and carrying out your wishes for burial.
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