Dementia stole his golden years. His family donated his brain for research so others don’t suffer too


Misconceptions about brain donation and taboos surrounding death persist.

For starters, there’s the myth that brain recovery takes place at the forehead, said BBS’s Dr Sim.

This misconception often stokes fear in a grieving family that brain donation would “disfigure the face of the deceased or result in hair removal”, making it difficult to arrange open-casket burials.

“This is not the case. The face remains intact as the brain is retrieved from the back of the head, carefully stitched up afterwards and the area is covered by the hair of the deceased… to ensure minimal effect on the body appearance,” Dr. Sim explained.

“The cleaning of the cut will also be carried out by the coffin company engaged by BBS before the body is returned to the family for the funeral. Open-air funerals can proceed as normal.

Death also remains taboo in Singapore, Dr Sim added. “Therefore, although individuals may be interested in registering as brain donors, it may be difficult to discuss their end-of-life plans and wishes with family or loved ones.”

But when such open conversations take place during the process of writing their will and advanced care planning, it allows the individual to “think about the legacy they want to leave behind,” he said. she declared.

Brain donation is then seen as a ‘natural next step’ to ensure that they can continue to make a difference in the lives of future generations after their death.

“It’s hard to imagine the depth of frustration caused by currently incurable neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease and motor neuron disease, unless you or a loved one have suffered from them,” said Dr Sim.

Several donors shared that “they want something good to come out of their disease,” she added. By donating their brains for research, they hope “to help find a cure or even prevent other patients from suffering from these brain disorders”.

This is also the philosophy that guides the Yips. Being able to contribute in the future is their way of doing their best in the present.

“It’s not about this change that happens in this lifetime,” Vince said.

“After going through this process, it’s just about sharing our experience. Not only the pain of caregivers, but also what my father went through. He was about to retire and dementia robbed him of everything else, of all the remaining years he could have had,” she added.

“It’s something you wouldn’t want anyone to go through.”

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