Neuroimaging enables us to look deep inside the brain to learn more about the impact of seizures on its structure and function.
The Brain and Tissue Bank needs brain and other tissue, such as the spinal cord, the skin or the heart, where this is relevant to epilepsy research. You can also register separately to donate other organs through donation schemes such as the NHS Organ Donor Register.
After a donor dies
After a donor dies, the next-of-kin (partner, close relative or legal representative) should inform the person’s GP or the hospital of the donor's wishes to donate their brain for epilepsy research. The Brain and Tissue Bank should be informed immediately on 020 3448 4009.
The Brain and Tissue Bank team will then contact either the hospital or the donor’s doctor, the coroner if needed and the funeral director, and will also keep the family informed.
The team will arrange for the body to be taken to the hospital nearest to the place of death, and for a pathologist to remove the brain and other tissue. The tissue will be taken to the Brain and Tissue Bank where it is quickly processed and stored.
If a person dies suddenly and SUDEP – sudden unexpected death in epilepsy – is suspected, there may be a post mortem to establish cause of death. If the donor’s family still wish for the brain to be donated for epilepsy research, they should inform the coroner’s officer who can arrange to release the brain to the Brain and Tissue Bank at an appropriate time.
Investigating SUDEP through brain tissue
Understanding the complexities of the brain is key to understanding the causes of epilepsy and the impact of seizures on the brain.
It is also pivotal in improving the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy.
Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of science focusing on sequencing, analysis and interpretation of the genome or complete set of DNA of an individual.
Epidemiology helps us to look at epilepsy in the community and find out who, when and where people have developed the condition.