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Brain Donation to Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, (HBTRC)



For comparative neurobiological investigations, brain tissue is being collected from:

Registering for a potential donation is easy! Any person 18 years of age or older can simply complete the "Secure Brain Donation Registration" and send it to the “Brain Bank.” Beyond registering, it is most important to inform your family that you are pre-registered for potential brain donation at HBTRC and make sure they know to call HBTRC (immediately) at the time of your death.

Whether donation is pre-planned/pre-registered or it is a last minute decision on the part of the family/Next Of Kin, it’s always best if the family has openly discussed the idea of donation in advance! This helps families to understand and be prepared to honor the donor’s wish, avoid misunderstandings and facilitates the donation process. At the time of the death of a potential donor, the Next Of Kin will need to be available to verify the donor's intent to donate and to provide “Postmortem Authorization for Brain Donation,” (Informed Legal Consent) to HBTRC.

An individual's body becomes the property of their estate at the time of their death. Although an individual can make a personal request to donate his/her brain (or even pre-register,) ultimately it is the surviving family members who have the privilege and responsibility of deciding whether this unique and valuable gift will be made. Please see Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for more information on consent hierarchy/authority.


  1. The identity of each: potential donor, actual brain donor and donor family will remain strictly confidential, in accordance with HIPAA Regulations and McLean Hospital policies.
  2. Brain donation does not conflict with most religious perspectives and will not interfere with a donor’s ability to be viewed/have an open casket or preclude embalming or cremation. Call 1-800-Brain Bank for a brochure outlining specific “Religious Perspectives.”
  3. With the exception of some “Special Collections” cases, a complimentary, diagnostic neuropathological report (brain “autopsy report”) is sent to the family and to the pathologist involved with the case.
  4. Limited funds are available to cover the primary costs of local brain removal and shipment to our facility. HBTRC cannot be financially responsible for: any additional transportation costs, “facility use” or other miscellaneous charges that may be imposed by the family’s funeral home or cremation service. Potential donors and donor families are encouraged to discuss these topics with your funeral professionals. You should let them know of your donation interest, find out whether or not such charges might occur and pre-negotiate your final arrangements accordingly.

Acceptable Diagnoses


  1. Have the family discussion about brain donation. Don’t forget to inform your health care providers and funeral professionals about your decision.
  2. It is preferable for you to register online but you may also call 1-800-BRAINBANK, (1-800-272-4622).
  3. Upon processing your registration, we can send a wallet-sized "Donor Card." Carrying this card is not necessary, legally binding and does not constitute legal consent but it may be helpful by informing healthcare providers of your interest.
  4. At the time of impending death and/or at death: call 1-800-BRAINBANK (1-800-272-4622) and be prepared to provide the following information:

   A) Donor’s complete name

   B) Current location of donor’s body, i.e. (hospital, nursing home, medical examiner’s office, funeral home…) and their respective contact info

   C) Donor’s date of birth

   D) Date, time and of death (if known) or the “last seen alive time” & death circumstances

   E) Name, relationship, complete mailing address, address and phone number of legal next-of-kin

   F) Donor’s neurological or psychiatric diagnosis (if applicable)

  G) Donor’s race

  H) Contact info for the funeral home or cremation service that the family will be using. If the decedent is not yet there, what time they are expected to be there?

Contact Us By:



Our Address:          Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center
                                         McLean Hospital
                                         Mailstop 138
                                         115 Mill Street
                                         Belmont, MA 02478  

Modified:  19-Aug-2014