By Debbie Gregory.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald has announced that he will donate his brain to advance brain research.
McDonald is in good company, as three-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Nancy Hogshead-Makar and former NFL player and Super Bowl champion Phil Villapiano have also pledged to donate their brains.
The VA will partner with the Concussion Legacy Foundation to conduct the research.
“As I listened to the very powerful personal stories from Veterans and the challenges the world’s top researchers are working to overcome in TBI, I made a decision: I decided to join the hundreds of Veterans and athletes who have already donated their brain to the VA Brain Bank so that I may, in a small way, contribute to the vital research happening to better understand brain trauma,” said McDonald. “This is a very, very serious issue, one that affects Veterans and non-Veterans alike. We don’t know nearly as much as we should about brain health, but if there’s one thing I’ve seen after visiting almost 300 VA facilities in the past two years: our Veterans, particularly those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are greatly affected by TBI. VA needs to continue leading the coalition of scientists working to improve their lives.
Just as there has been an increase in organ donations through awareness campaigns, the Concussion Legacy Foundation is working to create a culture of brain donation in America. They are asking living athletes and Veterans to donate their brains to the Brain Bank, since the most common victims of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) are athletes and Veterans.
The tell-tale sign of CTE is a build up a protein called tau that kills brain cells and damages tissue. Tau is also found in the brains of epileptics.
Most recently, the late Joan Marie Laurer, known to most of the world as pro-wrestler “Chyna” will have her brain donated to science. She had been asked to join a brain injury lawsuit against the WWE before her death, but she declined.
If you would like more information please visit http://concussionfoundation.org/get-involved/research-registry