My beautiful wife, Ann, and I have been married for 54 years. Many years ago we agreed to donate our organs after our death, so that someone else might live. Nine years ago, Ann was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease by the doctors at the UAB Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Her diagnosis has changed our lives but not our love for each other. We have decided to leave her brain to the UAB Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, so that they can hopefully find better treatments and even a cure some day for our children and grandchildren.
When our time comes, we have told our children not to mourn our deaths but to celebrate our lives. I strongly believe in The Brain Donation Program and would recommend that every family touched by this disease consider leaving this legacy for their family too.
Sincerely, Pete Roth, caregiver
Why is brain donation important? A brain autopsy is the only way to confirm the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Information from the autopsy is helpful to researchers working to better understand Alzheimer’s and find a cure.
How is it a gift?
Alzheimer’s disease can run in families. Knowing that you truly had the disease (or not) allows your surviving family members to seek help and make plans for the future. It is a gift to them.
Who can donate?
Current and past participants in our research are welcome. If you wish to donate, it is important for your family members to know your wishes and be a part of the decision-making process.
How is the autopsy done?
Your family must notify us of your death quickly (within two hours). Your body is then taken to UAB Hospital where the brain is removed through an incision in the back of the head. Do not worry, your face will look normal afterwards at the funeral home.
Does it cost anything?
The autopsy is provided at no charge to the families of study participants.
Who can give permission?
Alabama law lets a person give consent for autopsy while still alive and also authorizes others to do so after death or if a person becomes incompetent.
What does my family receive?
Your family will receive a written report on the autopsy. This letter tells the diagnosis, summarizes other findings, and includes a number to call if there are questions.
Can I have an open casket funeral?
Most definitely yes. The brain is removed in such a way that your face and hair are not altered. This is a common thing for funeral directors and morticians. Your funeral director will know what to do to make you look your best.
What if I decline on religious grounds?
You can decline for any reason, religious or otherwise. Donating is your choice. It is a good idea to talk with your family and your pastor before finalizing a decision.
How can I get further information?
Call the Neurology Autopsy Nurse at (205) 934-1668 for more information and to discuss your situation. At the time of death call UAB paging at (205) 934-3411 and ask for the Brain Donation Program.