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  • How do I complete the autopsy request form?
    Please ask your physician as to how to complete the autopsy request form. This form is typically completed by a family member but the next-of-kin or legal designate must sign this for approval. A physician also must approve the autopsy request.
  • Is it possible to request a medical autopsy with brain donation by telephone?
    Yes, it may be possible to authorize the autopsy and brain donation by phone. Please discuss this with medical staff.
  • Where is the autopsy consent form sent?
    The autopsy consent form can be kept with an individual’s medical chart. When transportation is being arranged to take the deceased individual to the morgue, a copy of the completed and signed autopsy consent form must be sent as well.
  • Where can I get a copy of the brain tissue donation form?
    There is no form specifically for brain tissue donation. If requesting a medical brain autopsy from the hospital, a donation to the MBTB can be made as well. Please add a handwritten statement to autopsy request forms indicating that a donation is to be made to the MBTB.
  • Can I consent to my own autopsy and brain tissue donation?
    No, once an individual passes, it is their next-of-kin or legal designate that has the legal authority to request the autopsy and authorize the brain tissue donation. Please ensure your family members are aware of your wish to have a brain autopsy with donation to research.
  • How soon after death does an autopsy have to take place?
    Ideally, an autopsy would take place as soon after death as reasonably possible. A longer postmortem interval (PMI) between death and the autopsy will start to affect the tissue. However, the MBTB does not reject donations based on PMI. Typically, the PMI ranges from 12-36 hours.
  • What happens after the autopsy is completed?
    Funeral arrangements can proceed following the autopsy. Morgue staff should be informed which funeral home should be contacted.
  • Can an open casket funeral take place if a brain autopsy and donation takes place?
    Yes, staff at the hospital make every effort to ensure incisions are minimally visible.
  • Are there donations that are not accepted?
    The MBTB is unable to accept donations from individuals who have been diagnosed with communicable diseases such as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). We apologize to families that we are unable to accept these donations.
  • Is it possible to be an organ donor and brain donor?
    Yes, it is possible to be a live tissue donor for transplantation and a brain donor.
  • If I’m an organ donor, is a brain donation automatically approved?
    No, live tissue donation for transplantation is a separate medical issue. Brain donation is for research purposes and requires specific approval.
  • What are the benefits of a medical brain autopsy?
    Currently, a medical brain autopsy is required to confirm the clinical diagnosis for many neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, a tissue donation to the MBTB can then be made to help support neurodegenerative disease research.
  • When is a brain autopsy with donation requested?
    Brain autopsy with donation can be requested before or after death.
  • Does a full body autopsy have to be done?
    No, a full body autopsy does not have to be requested, it can be limited to the brain only.
  • Is the donation process the same as Dalhousie's Human Donation Program (HDP)?
    The brain tissue donation procedure IS NOT the same one used for Human Donation Program at Dalhousie University. If you reside in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick and you wish to donate your body, please contact Human Donation Program staff at 902-494-6850 to obtain a copy of the procedure, or go to
  • Is it possible to donate to Dalhousie's Human Donation Program (HDP) and the MBTB?
    Yes, donations can be made to the HDP and the MBTB. Please contact staff at the HDP and complete their forms. Please add an additional handwritten statement to indicate a donation is also to be made to the MBTB. Please note, even when the necessary forms have been completed, there are times the HDP is unable to accept donations due to capacity limits. If this occurs, it is still possible to donate brain tissue to the MBTB if you are requesting a medical brain autopsy through the hospital.
  • How do I obtain a copy of the neuropathology report?
    The neuropathology report, which can take up to 6-months to complete, should be sent to the requesting physician. An appointment can be made with them to discuss the results of the examination. If the requesting physician has not received this report, they can contact the pathology department to request this. Please note, due to confidentiality laws, the MBTB is not permitted to release reports.
  • Do funeral arrangements need to be made if requesting an autopsy with donation?
    Yes, once the autopsy has been completed, the family is responsible for having funeral arrangements in order.
  • Is there a cost associated with the medical brain autopsy?
    Depending on which province you reside in, there may be costs associated with the autopsy and neuropathological examination. This should be discussed with local healthcare staff.
  • Does the MBTB charge a fee for providing tissue to researchers?
    The MBTB does not sell tissue donations. To recover the expenses associated with supplies as well as the time to process tissue requests, the MBTB charges a small cost recovery fee. This helps support daily operations at the MBTB.
  • Who does the MBTB send tissue to?
    Researchers from non-profit, typically academic, institutions from around the world can request tissue from the MBTB. Through an application and review process, the MBTB ensures tissue is only sent to appropriate researchers.
  • How will tissue donated to the MBTB be used?
    Tissue provided to researchers may either be preserved in formaldehyde or frozen. Formaldehyde preserved tissue is typically used to examine the distribution of various biological markers in the brain while protein levels or certain genetic markers may be analyzed in frozen tissue.
  • How will research results be released?
    Research from tissue from the MBTB may be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. No identifying information will be provided to researchers so all results with be anonymous.
  • Can families direct what research the donation is used for?
    Due to confidentiality laws, we are unable to direct specific donations to specific research projects.
  • Is the MBTB accepting donations during the COVID-19 pandemic?
    Yes, the MBTB is accepting brain donations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Can a donation be made if my family member died while they had COVID-19?
    Yes, the MBTB can still accept these donations.
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