Paige Havens

Now there’s a headline you don’t see every day, but this is an important topic for us to discuss as researchers are working each and every day to better understand concussions and the long-term effects of repetitive hits to the body and head. The only way to further this critical research is to provide researchers with brains to study.

While some people consider donating their whole bodies to science, others may be more inclined to donate individual organs to help further targeted research. Hence, there is now the option to donate your brain to further concussion and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) research.

In 2008 the Veterans Administration, Boston University, and the Concussion Legacy Foundation partnered together to found the VA-BU-CLA Brain Bank. The researchers and staff of this brain bank have begun to revolutionize our understanding of brain trauma. The VA-BU-CLA Brain Bank became the first repository in the world dedicated to the study of concussions and other consequences of traumatic brain injury and has since discovered the first cases of CTE in athletes. The goal is to help further our understanding, develop new treatments and protocols, and help protect future generations. 

More and more competitive athletes are signing the pledge to donate their brains to support the cause. Today the list expands well beyond football players to include others like soccer legend Brandi Chastain, NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. and U.S. Olympic bobsledder from Georgia Elana Meyers Taylor. But being a “Legacy Donor” is not limited to superstars and athletes. All adults, with or without a history of sports participation or military service are eligible to register as brain donors. Brains of everyday people like you and me are critical to the learning process too. The Bank needs all kinds of tissues to compare conditions and gauge variables.

If brain donation is something you would be willing to consider, I encourage you to visit to learn more. Those who make the pledge receive a brain donor wallet card, as well as information on the brain donation process. There is absolutely no cost to donors or their family. 

If it helps, I am not asking you to do anything I’m not willing to do myself. I’ve signed the pledge and am a proud card-carrying brain donor. Join me in pledging to donate your brain to help us further the science of concussion.