X-Message-Number: 13880
Date: Fri, 09 Jun 2000 23:21:34 +0000
From: Kennita Watson <>
Subject: Brain preservation

I spent quite a while today talking with Grant Dahmer on the phone.
For those who don't know, he's on the faculty of the Department of 
Cell Biology and Anatomy at the University of Arizona and the 
Director of Willed Body Programs there.  I'll try to include  
everything I remember of what we talked about; forgive me if I 
don't present it very well.

He's apparently the best at, and best known in, the field of brain
preservation.  Some hospital Anatomical Pathology departments are 
on a first-name basis with him, he's trained most of the people 
who perform the procedure, and in his own words, he can remove a 
brain "in his sleep".

It's best if you know you'll need his services before anyone has
actually died, or at worst a few hours post-mortem; the *maximum*
time that a brain can go before being preserved is 15 hours, and 
best it be half that time or less.  <some tech talk about blood
enzymes attacking brain structure that I didn't really get>

The sooner Grant knows what's going on, the more help he can be.
FWIW, I found him very helpful and upbeat on the phone.

Best you connect with the Anatomic Pathology department of a 
regional hospital, because they're the most likely to have the
equipment and expertise to perform brain removal and perfusion with 
washout solution.  Sometimes a local mortuary or a small-town
hospital can handle it, but not often.  People are often quite
helpful; telling them the brain is to be used for research can
perk them up.

He estimates that that part of the procedure should cost 
about $600 to $1000, and that all in all it should come out to
less than a normal funeral.

Airlines will sometimes carry anatomical donations at no charge on 
the next plane, in an ice slurry in a styrofoam container in the 
cockpit.  A brain has even been hand-delivered as carry-on luggage.

Once preserved, the brain is stored in a fluid solution (I didn't 
ask about it; I imagine its formulation is proprietary to his company,

Dr. Dahmer has been on call 24x7 since the 1970s. In case of urgent
need (patient down), his pager number (voice or numeric) is
800-560-6093. If he doesn't get back to you within 15 or 20 minutes,
there may have been some sort of interference that garbled the
message; try again.

For non-emergency contact, Dr. Dahmer is best reached at Biopolymers,
520-529-2776 (both voice and fax).

Important steps:
	Have the person pronounced dead
	Have a death certificate signed (say, by primary care physician)
	See to it that the Medical Examiner does not have to be involved
	Get the body to the nearest refrigerated storage

Somewhere in there, call Grant, so he can be prepared for the brain
to arrive to have its preservation completed (which can take about
a month), or even help with the rest of the process.

The rest of the body can be "funeralized", or even have its organs
donated, though often if the person is elderly, only the corneas
may be usable.

He says he's spoken with Alcor, and that maybe brains will be stored 
at their facility, though not at LN2 temperatures, which he says are
an unnecessary expense once preservation is complete.

Dr. Dahmer does not have email and is not on the Internet.

I'm taking off my research secretary hat now. I think I've told you
everything I know on the subject. Please don't write me looking for
answers; I don't have time for more research, and I'll have only wild 
speculations and unveiled opinion to offer.

A couple of random guesses:  if you're gravely ill, the University of
Arizona may be a good place to start looking for a deathbed.  And if
you don't have friends to look out for your best interests, you may
want to have a will donating your brain to Dr. Dahmer (I'd ask him
about that first).

Here's hoping you never need his services,
Kennita Watson          |  I vote Libertarian.
      |      Find out why.
http://i.am/kennita     |           http://www.lp.org/intro

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