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One Precious Gift: Families donate brains to answer their own questions—and those of science

Wonderful article in this month’s edition ofNeurology Nowon the importance of brain donation.

It began in the late 1990s, the change in George Edwards. It’s hard to say when his brain began to register the effects of a neurodegenerative disease, says his widow Rachel Hadas, Ph.D., an award-winning poet and the Board of Governors Professor of English at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ.

But looking back, the damage began to reveal itself in the form of odd, uncharacteristic behavior, she recalls. The composer and long-time professor of music at Columbia University was quiet by nature, but he had become disturbingly remote, and apathetic.

Hadas chronicled her husband’s brain illness in Strange Relation: A Memoir of Marriage, Dementia, and Poetry (rachelhadas.com). The book, published in 2011 by Paul Dry Books, provides readers with a moving account of Edwards’ behavioral and cognitive changes.

But the family learned the exact cause of that illness only after Edwards died and an autopsy was performed. By donating his brain to science, they are also helping neurologists learn what to look for in the examination room.

 Read more online at http://journals.lww.com/neurologynow/Fulltext/2012/08050/One_Precious_Gift__Families_donate_brains_to.19.aspx.

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