Postmortem tissue donation for research: a positive opportunity?

Tracey Millar, Chrys Lerpiniere, Robert Walker, Colin Smith, Jeanne E Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Previous research using human brain tissue has increased the understanding of many brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and Creutzfeldt Jakob disease. However, there are other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, which remain poorly understood and which require further investigation. The ongoing decline in the consented postmortem rate poses a threat to tissue collections and, consequently, future research. In the setting of the new Human Tissue legislation the authors set out to ascertain whether families recently and suddenly bereaved were willing to grant authorization for tissue samples and/or organs to be retained for research purposes at the time of medico-legal postmortem examination in adequate numbers to support the establishment of a brain and tissue bank. During the 2-year pilot phase of the project, 96% of families authorized retention of tissue samples for research and 17% agreed to whole brain donation. Respondents to a short questionnaire indicated that they were not further distressed by the approach and the majority were of the opinion that research donation should be offered to all bereaved families. This research concludes that the overwhelming majority of families who are recently and suddenly bereaved are willing to authorize research use of tissue taken at the time of postmortem examination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)644-9
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Nursing
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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