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Assisting with Tissue Recovery

The process for obtaining consent and preparing tissue for shipment are in accordance with our Institutional Review Board protocol. It is also designed to be as straight forward for the Medical Examiner or Pathologist Assistant as possible. Consent from the next of kin is obtained by the Brain and Tissue Bank, and the Bank supplies the materials required for packaging and shipping tissue. The procedure for recovering tissue for the Brain and Tissue Bank is outlined below.

Procedure for working with the Brain and Tissue Bank to recover tissue

  1. When an individual of any age dies and is known to be diagnosed with a developmental, neurologic, or psychologic condition, the Medical Examiner or Coroner contacts the next of kin and asks if they would be willing to talk to a staff member at the University of Maryland Bank and Tissue Bank about an NIH-funded tissue procurement project. If preferred, the Bank will call direct.
  2. If the family agrees, the Medical Examiner or Coroner contacts the Bank and a staff member will obtain a recorded telephone consent from the next of kin for donation.   
  3. A written verification of the consent is then faxed to the referring Medical Examiner’s or Coroner’s office.  Alternatively, the recording can also be played over the telephone for confirmation.
  4. The Medical Examiner or Forensic Pathologist recovers the brain and fixes the right hemisphere in formalin and freezes the left hemisphere at -80oC using a simple sectioning protocol (see details below under "Notes"). 
  5. Shipping materials will be supplied by the Bank to facilitate the shipment of the recovered tissue to University of Maryland.
  6. The Bank will generate a neuropathology report for distribution to the Medical Examiner.


  • The Bank is willing to cover reasonable expenses associated with tissue recovery (shipping costs will already be covered by the Bank).
  • The Bank is willing to make changes to the consenting process as needed.
  • For brain tissue recovery:  Right hemisphere fixed in formalin, left hemisphere frozen after dissecting into 4 regions:  cerebrum, medulla, brainstem, and cerebellum. A sectioning diagram will be provided.
  • For some cases, if feasible, some systemic tissue may also be collected. Liver (1 cm x 3 cm x 3 cm), Heart (1 cm thick cross section through left and right ventricles), Kidney (1 cm x 3 cm x 3 cm), Psoas muscle, Lumbar plexus, Ascending colon (6 cm section, open and laid flat for freezing), Terminal ileum (6 cm section, open and laid flat for freezing), Vagus nerve from carotid sheath, Spinal cord, Blood.
  • Tissue should be rinsed with water before freezing.

For technical questions please contact Lexi LeFevre at 1-800-847-1539.