Many of us are organ donors. Our driver's license conveniently notes this with a small heart symbol in the corner. This small act saves lives. But did you know that this designation does not cover all of your organs?
Brain tissue research is a critical component to finding cures for such devastating diseases as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Stroke.
How Do I Become a Brain Donor?
- If you have questions about becoming a donor, please call 843-792-7867.
- Complete the Brain Donor Registration Form (PDF)
- Return the Brain Donor Registration form by mail, fax or email:
US Postal Mail:
Carroll A. Campbell Neuropathology Lab
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
171 Ashley Avenue
Charleston, SC 29425-9080
- Upon receipt of the Brain Donor Registration Form, we will send you a wallet-sized Donor Card.
- Have a family discussion to inform your loved ones about your decision to become a donor, as well as your physician.
- At the time of impending death, please call 843-494-1578 to notify our staff so arrangements can be made.
- A Post-Mortem Consent Form (PDF) must be completed by the legal next-of-kin after death in order to authorize the removal of the brain.
This form must be presented at the time of autopsy.
The family must also authorize the release of medical records to the Carroll A. Campbell Jr. Neuropathology Laboratory.
As our understanding of the aging brain advances, it has become clear that sensory organs controlling vision and hearing are affected by neurological disorders, including many forms of dementia. Therefore, we believe it is important to study these associated structures, in parallel with brain tissue, in hopes of forming a more complete understanding of these devastating diseases. It is for this reason, we ask donors to consider including the structures closely associated with the brain, which are:
- Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF): surrounding the brain and blood
- Temporal Bone: a small part of bone encasing the brain, which also contains the structures of the inner ear that control hearing and balance
- Eyes & Aqueous and Vitreous Humor: eyes and the fluid inside the eyes, which are closely associated with many neurological disorders, including several forms of dementia
The final consent form, that is completed by the next of kin at the time of death, will have the following two donation options:
- Brain and associated structures: includes blood sample, CSF, ocular fluid, eyes, and portion of temporal bones
- Brain and fluid only: includes blood sample, CSF, ocular fluid
We encourage donors and their families to discuss these options ahead of time to aid in making this decision.
"I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease five years ago. Fortunately the progression of the disease is much slower in me than it is in friends and acquaintances of mine who also have PD. Even so, it is a disruption in my life and can become a burden to my family.
If the disease is to be conquered, more research on the actual changes in the tissues of healthy and PD affected brains must be conducted. This requires providing scientists with brain tissue to better understand the changes that neurological diseases make in that tissue.
My wife and I have both made the decision to donate our brains, after death, to the Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. Neuropathology Laboratory at the Medical University of South Carolina. We encourage others to not only become organ donors but also brain donors so that further studies can be conducted on neurological diseases through the investigation of brain tissue.
We look forward to the day when the diagnosis of PD does not mean living with a disease that is progressive and has no cure."
- Donor in Fair Play, SC
"I had the sad experience of watching a loved one pass away with Alzheimer’s. When I heard of the Brain Bank and becoming a donor I did not think twice about registering for this opportunity to maybe help science slow or maybe even end this disease. I was not able to help my loved one-maybe I can help someone else or maybe even your loved one. This is a great feeling by donating for research."
- Tauna Longest, Charleston, SC
"Through my work, I have the privilege of helping people and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia every day. The ability to plan ahead and donate my brain to the Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. Neuropathology Laboratory gives me the opportunity to potentially help people with Alzheimer’s even after my death. After I talked with my family and made my decision, the process to donate was effortless and straightforward. I hope my brain will be a valuable contribution to researchers as they strive to more clearly understand the causes of brain degeneration."
- Laura Stefanelli , Charleston, SC
"I believe very strongly in the advance of any scientific endeavor; particularly anything that may assist in solving the mysteries of aging and associated dementia-related conditions which cause so much sadness and suffering. Since, I will some day no longer need the use of my brain, if it can help in the advance of aging and other research, I wish to make it available for that purpose. Also, in some way, it may help in leading to a very small piece of personal immortality. Besides, it costs me nothing. I would encourage others to consider donating theirs as well."
- David Fleshman, Charleston, SC