People living with MS may hold the key to curing this disease. One way they can make a difference is to arrange to donate their brain and spinal cord tissues when they die. The National MS Society supports two MS tissue banks, which are storage facilities that provide brain and spinal cord tissues to researchers studying multiple sclerosis. These studies generally focus on the pathology of MS — its nature, cause, and effects on the brain — and they are extremely important.
A tissue bank is very close to what it sounds like: an area in a laboratory or medical center where tissue specimens are "deposited" and stored for later "withdrawal" and use. The MS tissue banks store brain and spinal cord tissues, spinal fluid, and other specimens from persons who had MS during their lifetimes. The banks are often interested in collecting specimens from people who do not have MS, or from family members. These samples are frozen or otherwise preserved very soon after the death of the donor. The banked tissues are carefully catalogued with information about the each donor's medical history.
For those considering donating tissue, planning ahead is essential. Brain tissue must be prepared within hours after death to be of use in research. (This donation need not interfere with funeral arrangements.)
The decision to contribute to this special type of research is most thoughtful, and is truly appreciated by all who are involved in moving toward a world free of MS.
Tissue banks in the United States
Individuals interested in the possibility of tissue donation can contact these banks. Please note, potential donors do not need to live in the immediate vicinity of these tissue banks in order to participate.
These tissue banks are funded by the National MS Society:
National MS Brain Bank
710 W. 168th St.
New York, NY 10032
Please call 201-951-6661 for immediate assistance with brain donation.
Rocky Mountain MS Center at Anschutz Medical Campus
University of Colorado Denver, Department of Neurology
12631 E 17th Ave, Rm 5506
Aurora, CO 80045
Phone: 303-788-4030 ext. 120
For urgent questions, call 720-626-6060
This bank is suppported by the National Institutes of Health.
Human Brain and Spinal Fluid Resource Center
Building 212, Room 16 (127-A)
West Los Angeles Health Care Center
11301 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90073
24-hour pager: 310-389-5199
Please see here for similar resources supported by the NIH.
Umbilical cord blood donation
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Marrow Donor Program both strongly encourage umbilical cord donations
for general research purposes. Donors are encouraged to contact a cord blood bank by the 35th week of pregnancy. Umbilical cord blood is being studied for potential use in a wide variety of life-threatening diseases because it is a rich source of blood stem cells.