Brain Endowment Bank

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FAQs

Who can donate?
Are there any restrictions?
How do I become a brain donor?
Is pre-registration/registration required for brain donation?
I’m an organ donor on my driver’s license. Does that mean I’m a brain donor?
Can I donate my brain if I have already signed up as a whole body donor, tissue donor, or organ donor?
What about the costs involved with donation?
Does brain donation affect funeral plans or a viewing?
What special procedures must be followed at time of death?
What happens when a donor passes?
Who performs the procedure?
Will my next-of-kin receive a report on the findings?
Why is the neuropathology report important?

Who can donate?

Anyone can become a brain donor. We accept donors aging from neonates through people one hundred years or older. While our primary research focus is neurological diseases and psychiatric disorders, we do accept healthy donors who are not affected. Donated tissues from healthy individuals are just as necessary as those with neurological or psychiatric disorders. Studying a healthy brain helps scientists to understand why certain individual’s age well and others are more at risk, even in the same family.

Are there any restrictions?

There are few restrictions to acceptance in our brain bank program. However, we cannot accept a donation if:
• There is positive serology or active hepatitis
• Assisted Ventilation over 24 hours
• Hemorrhagic or recent stroke
• Rapidly declining cases of dementia

How do I become a brain donor?

Becoming a Brain Bank by registering either online or by phone.
• To register online: http://brainbank.med.miami.edu/donor-program/recruitment-of-donors-form
• To register by phone: (305) 243-6219 or 1-800-UM BRAIN
Once your intake screen is complete, you will be sent a registration packet. The signed authorization and return of the materials in the packet officially enrolls you or a loved one as a member of our donor program.

Is pre-registration/registration required for brain donation?

We encourage interested donors to pre-register with our program. Pre-registration facilitates the brain donation process. However, pre-registration is not a requirement. In instances of emergency sign ups or post-mortem inquiries, please call our 24-hour phone line (1-800 UM BRAIN). One of our trained staff members will assist you.

“I’m an organ donor on my driver’s license. Does that mean I’m a brain donor?”

No. Signing up as an organ donor on your driver’s license does not guarantee that your brain will be donated at time of death. The best way to ensure that brain donation is a final gift is to pre-register with our program. You will receive a membership card that you may keep on your person to indicate your final wish and let others know that this is your intention.

Can I donate my brain if I have already signed up as a whole body donor, tissue donor, or organ donor?

Yes. Brain donation does not interfere with your plans for whole body or organ donation. There are no restrictions in donating eyes, skin, bone, or similar tissues when donating one’s brain. In fact, the University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank™ has partnerships with two whole body donation organizations. We will work with you to coordinate your final wish.

What about the costs involved with donation?

A brain and tissue donation comes at no cost to the family; however, funeral expenses remain the responsibility of the family.

Does brain donation affect funeral plans or a viewing?

Brain donation does not delay funeral, cremation or burial plans. It does not interfere with open casket viewing or traditional funeral services.

What special procedures must be followed at time of death?

Because brain donation must take place within 24 hours of a person’s passing, our Brain Bank asks family members, mortuary and medical staff or friends to alert our trained specialists 24/7 at 1-800 UM BRAIN. When calling, please provide the following information: your name, name of your facility or relationship to the deceased, phone number, name of the deceased and time and place of death.
In the event that we have not heard from the family, it is important for retirement facilities, nursing homes, and health care provides to notify the Brain Bank immediately following death. The Brain Bank will contact the funeral home or mortuary provider.

What happens when a donor passes?

Once the University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank™ receives notice, we begin to facilitate your pre-determined “after-death” donor plan, as you have indicated on your registration documents. The Brain Bank will contact the funeral home or whole body donation program and your caregivers to coordinate transportation and the coordination of the gift.

Who performs the procedure?

For people that live in the Greater Miami/Tri-County area: We complete the donation at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank™ has established a nationwide network of pathologists/dieners who assist us with donations of brain and tissues.

Will my next-of-kin receive a report on the findings?

Within 6-9 months, family members will receive a neuropathology report. These reports provide a comprehensive look at the brain at time of donation. Many family members find these reports provide answers not only for their loved one, but for the relatives. Once you receive the report, if you have any questions feel free to call the University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank at 1-800 UM BRAIN or 305-243-6219.

Why is the neuropathology report important?

The purpose of the neuropathology report is to confirm, correct or expand upon the clinical diagnosis. This report confirms the disease process and diagnosis given during life. It also ensures that our researchers receive well-charactertized tissues to conduct their research studies.

Should you have any further questions, please contact us at 1-800 UM BRAIN or 305-243-6219.

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