Brain donation occurs after death when a person or their family members decide to donate a brain for research purposes. The participation of both healthy and sick persons is required in order to compare and better understand diseases that affect the brain.
As the brain is such a complex structure, donation of the whole organ is essential. The spinal cord is also extracted in the case of certain diseases.
Why is brain donation important?
We have made significant progress in the past few years in understanding the diseases that affect the brain even though we are yet to find a cure for them. As a result, we need human neurological tissue in order to be able to compare what happens in the brains of people who suffer these diseases with those who don't suffer them using new biomedical research techniques.
What happens to the donated brain?
Once an autopsy has been performed, the brain and occasionally the spinal cord are examined and a final diagnosis made.
Who has access to the donated samples?
All neurological tissue are deposited indefinitely in the Basque Biobank for Research. Researchers from all over the world will be able to access the samples upon presenting a research project approved by an ethics committee. These researchers will receive anonymised samples, which means that they will not be able to link them to the donor's identity.