Huge response to Brain Donor Appeal

Our brain donor appeal launched in Parkinson's Awareness Week has really taken off. Our priority was to raise the profile of the Parkinson's Brain Bank, encourage people to sign up to the brain donor register and raise the profile of the Parkinson's Disease Society (PDS) in Parkinson's research.

Getting Jeremy Paxman and other celebrities to support the campaign was brilliant and meant that we had a story that was picked up by the media in a big way.

On Monday 20 April, the first day of Parkinson's Awareness Week, the story was covered by the national press, and Jane Asher, our President, was in great demand across the broadcast media as the story grew.

On Friday I took part in a live webchat, with Jane Asher and Dr Lubna Arif, Research Liaison Manager (pictured right), to discuss brain donation and Parkinson's research and answer questions people had sent in on the subject.

You can view the webchat here.

So what have we learnt during the past week?

  1. There is massive interest in Parkinson's research - and so many people want to do their bit to support finding a cure.

  2. We need to make people more aware that as well as brains with Parkinson's, we also need brains of people without Parkinson's. This is so scientists can compare the brains and study the differences.

  3. There's a lot of confusion around donor cards. The NHS organ donor card applies for transplants only - not research, and doesn't cover the brain. To donate your brain for research into Parkinson's you need to sign up directly with the Parkinson's Brain Donor Register and then you will get a Brain Donor card.

By the end of the week we had over 4000 requests for information packs on how to donate your brain, and our website and helpline had also received record numbers of visitors and calls.

All this is fantastic. Now we need everyone who receives an information pack to complete and return their forms, in order to be added to our Brain Donor Register. This will help us achieve our target of doubling the number of people registered by the end of 2009.

Let's build on this campaign and use it to raise the profile of Parkinson's and the search for a cure.

Steve Ford is Chief Executive of the Parkinson's Disease Society