People urged to donate brains for medical research

People are being urged to donate their brains after death to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Around 1,000 people have already signed up to a donor register run by the Parkinson’s Disease Society but the charity hopes to double this number by the end of the year.

Around one in 500 people is affected by the condition and scientists need more brains to help find a cure.

Those with Parkinson’s are encouraged to donate but experts also need brains from healthy people so they can compare their findings.

Celebrities who have pledged their brains after death include Jane Asher, who is president of the Parkinson’s Disease Society, Jeremy Paxman and John Stapleton.

Famous sufferers of the disease include boxing legend Muhammad Ali and actor Michael J Fox.

A new poll carried out for the Parkinson’s Disease Society found 27% of people have not thought about donating their brain and only 7% were comfortable with the idea.

Meanwhile, 63% said they were okay with donating a heart and 65% said they were fine about donating a kidney.

The survey also revealed one in three people (29%) know someone affected by Parkinson’s.

The Parkinson’s Disease Society runs a brain bank at Hammersmith Hospital in west London.

Asher, whose brother-in-law has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, said: “I’ve visited the Parkinson’s brain bank and seen what fantastic work is going on there.

“Now we need a greater awareness of the benefits of brain donation so that more people come forward to register with us.

“So far 1,000 people have registered to donate their brains and, with better public knowledge, I’m sure we can double that number this year.

“Scientific research on brains both with and without Parkinson’s is essential.

“It’s vital that we secure more potential donors as this will help us move closer to a cure for what can be a debilitating and distressing condition.”

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