Office of Research & Development

Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses Biorepository Brain Bank: FAQ

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Biorepository Brain Bank

Why enroll now? I plan to live for a long time.

The health information that you provide now, while living will support research now, and upon your death make your tissue donation much more valuable to future research.

I served during the 1990-1991 Gulf War but was not deployed to the Gulf. Am I still eligible to enroll in the GWVIB?

Yes! Any 1990-1991 Gulf War era Veteran may enroll.

I am listed as an organ donor on my driver's license. Does this automatically make me eligible for brain donation?

Being an organ donor via your license is a very generous and life-saving donation to the many people waiting for an organ transplant. However, this does not automatically notify brain banks of your intention to donate your brain. A person intending to make a brain donation must sign up with a brain bank such as the VABBB before death. In cases where a person had wished to be a brain donor but was unable to sign up before death, family members may contact the brain bank to approve the donation as long as it is done immediately after death.

What if I already have my decision to donate written in my will?

By the time your will is read, it will be too late to recover your tissue. Enrolling now and telling your family that you want to donate is the best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

Will my family have to pay any costs if I decide to become an after-death organ donor?

No, we are responsible for all costs related to your organ donation as well as transportation of your body to and from the site where the donation is recovered. However, we cannot pay for the usual costs of the funeral, burial or cremation.

How soon after death must the organs be recovered?

We hope to recover the donated organs within 24 hours, although under certain circumstances, the time frame may be longer.

My family feels strongly about a wake with an open casket viewing. With an organ donation, will this still be possible?

Yes, the donated organs will be recovered in a manner that will not interfere with an open casket viewing.

What happens to donated tissue?

Donated tissue is sent to a VA-approved biorepository storage facility for analysis and storage. Researchers from around the country may request tissue samples to conduct approved research. Tissue requests from investigators are reviewed by an established review process approved by the VA Central Office (VACO) in Washington, D.C.

How will my confidentiality be protected?

The Veterans Health Administration complies with the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 and its privacy regulations and all other applicable laws that protect your privacy. We will protect your information according to these laws.

I am in favor of contributing to medical research, but I'm not sure of my religion's position on organ donations. What should I do?

If this is of concern to you, you should consult with your religious leader. Many religions, but not all, have eliminated opposition to organ donations.

Who should I talk to about donating?

It is important that your family and doctor know your wishes in the event you become unable to make your own health care decisions. Please know that you or your family may change the decision about donating at any time. If you are interested in taking part, or have additional questions, please call the Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses Biorepository brain bank at our toll free number: 1-855-561-7827.


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Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.