Today, I had the pleasure of visiting the MS Society and Parkinson’s Tissue Bank, nestled in a modern building near the beautiful Hammersmith Hospital; I was able to see the outstanding work of the researchers who are working tirelessly to find the cause and subsequent treatments for multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s. It’s not every day that you get to go behind the scenes of a genuine research lab and speak to the scientists who are working tirelessly to help those who are affected by conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.
I was blown away by the number of donations the Tissue Bank needed to ensure its vital research is able to keep going. The Tissue Bank is the largest MS-specific brain donor scheme in Europe and donated samples are sent all over the world to help scientists enhance and improve their knowledge of MS. So far the Tissue Bank has supplied over 10,000 individual samples to labs since 1998.
A few times a year we organise tours of the Tissue Bank for our donors, supporters, stakeholders, and volunteers; I feel that this is an incredibly important to offer the opportunity for these stakeholders to engage directly in our work with medical research.
Medical research can often be a hard topic to engage stakeholders with, no one would deny that it’s incredibly important but often when working with donors and supporters they want to help the people now, who are affected by the condition. Not look decades into the future for the hope of something better.
Seeing medical research directly and meeting the researchers who are doing groundbreaking work every day makes medical research a tangible activity. Seeing the Tissue Bank showed me that the activities happening now are really the only way we can make the long-lasting change to those people affected by conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s. Not to say that the support and services work isn’t important – it is. It’s vitally important, as medical research charities that are looking constantly into the future we must never forget those people who are affected now and work to give them the best standard of living they can have.
I always wanted to donate all my organs and then donate the rest of my body to medical science when I die. After hearing about the Tissue Bank I have now signed up to donate my brain and spinal cord tissue to the Tissue Bank with the hope that I will help researchers eventually help those with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.
More information about the Tissue Bank can be found here.
Information about how to donate your own brain and spinal cord tissue can be found here.