Dementia is devastating for families as they watch a loved one slip away mentally, sometimes long before that person’s death. And the only way to get a definitive answer about the cause, whether Alzheimer’s disease or something else, is a brain autopsy.
Affirmativ Diagnostics debuted their brain autopsy and DNA banking services at the 2016 ICCFA convention and expo. They were there to make funeral directors aware of postmortem options they can offer families who have a loved one who died with dementia.
“The brain autopsies are for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, to correctly diagnose what type of dementia the patient suffered from, and if it’s hereditary or not, so the family members can do preventative care,” explained Jeff Chance with Affirmativ Diagnostics. “It gives final answers to families, because the doctors can only guess while the patient is alive about what they have.”
A representative of Affirmativ Diagnostics would come to the funeral home, or wherever the body is located, to collect the brain, which is then sent to their lab in Bellingham, Washington. The pathologists there then analyze the tissue to determine the type of dementia, whether it’s hereditary or not, and give the family a definitive medical answer that can help bring a sense of closure following the death.
The full lab report is sent to the family within two to three weeks after procurement of the brain. Afterward, the remaining brain tissue is respectfully cremated. The company is investigating establishing research partnerships to benefit dementia-related research for treatments and cures.
Affirmativ Diagnostics also provides DNA banking, the opportunity to preserve tissue for future genetic research. DNA contains every human’s unique genetic code. This code can be sequenced and analyzed to identify specific genes or gene anomalies related to a disease.
While Affirmativ Diagnostics does not do genetic testing, storing DNA provides options for medical testing going forward. DNA storage also provides the opportunity to trace your family heritage, identify relationships, and gain a greater sense of personal identity. Cremation totally destroys DNA and embalming makes it difficult to obtain later.
At the funeral home, a 3mm sample of tissue is taken and then stored by Affirmativ Diagnostics in three different ways – drying, freezing, and in a solution. The frozen sample is stored in two separate locations so it can never be destroyed. The three different preservation techniques give plenty of options for the best future testing outcomes.
The company is doctor-owned and handles human tissue specimens safely and securely every day. For more information, visit www.AffirmativDiagnostics.com.