Brain Harvest – Update


I received an email from Lewis at Harvard this evening:

Hello Lisa,

I thank you for your kind words and for all the help you extended to me as I also worked through an unexpected obstacle with this woman’s donation. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in doing so. When I spoke with Dr. G*****, he informed me that he would not be able to do the brain procurement as the hospital, under new policy, will no longer conduct autopsies of any kind outside of hospital patients. My only wish is that the hospital contacted the HBTRC with this information prior to this case, so that we could have sought other alternatives beforehand, avoiding any complications. Normally, this would have been a much smoother operation for the both of us. Especially considering that this was all prearranged nearly two years ago. So, please do not feel that you have failed in any way. This, unfortunately, was a situation beyond our control, and finding a solution with such limited time and resources was not easy – particularly in the middle of the night on a weekend.

I sympathize deeply with the family and hope that they find comfort in knowing that we did all we could to see Mrs. G******’s final wishes through. Again, I thank you for all of your help. Pat G******* (Our Administrative Coordinator) will be sending you some informational brochures. You may also find further information on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us any time as we are extremely grateful for any help and support we can obtain in fulfilling our donor’s wishes.

Thank you again!


Well, I guess it didn’t turn out the way everyone had hoped. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed – because I am. However, as Lewis said, I do take some comfort that the family knows, and is satisfied, that we did exhaust absolutely every avenue and option available to us. In the future, we will know better what to do in such a situation.

Which is a good thing because today we have a new patient with a diagnosis of Huntington’s who expressed his strong desire to participate in a brain donation program. I guess the timing on this was very good, in that regard.

Either that – or I’ll just start carrying a chain saw and drummel in the trunk of my car!

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