Every April, a non-profit organization called Donate Life America raises awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation through social media and cause-based campaigns. At the time of unexpected tragedy, many families make tough, but important decisions about providing the gift of life to those nearly 125,000 patients on the ‘waiting list’ for life changing organs and the more than one million tissue transplants that are done each year.
With recent high profile news around organs being made available to HIV-positive patients from HIV-positive donors and the remarkable advancements of 3D printing – there has never been greater optimism for those whose future relies on the courageous decisions of patients and families that make incredibly impactful decisions under the most stressful situations.
Under less stressful circumstances, but still with the potential for impacting thousands or even millions of lives, is the decision of a patient to further medical research with the donation of their leftover biospecimens, such as blood or biopsy remnants. In a recent survey, iSpecimen found that many patients would be willing to give of themselves to advance medical research. In fact, close to two-thirds were even willing to give an extra tube of blood if asked, for the sole purpose of use in research.
This type of specimen donation and use in research truly does accelerate the changing and saving of lives, helping to ensure that new diagnostics and treatments are found. Some recent inquiries we have received show just how important these specimen-based studies are to changing the course of healthcare:
- Tumor and blood component samples from cancer patients undergoing checkpoint inhibitor treatment are being used to support further research into cancer immunotherapy
- Blood components from heart disease patients are being used to further study the mechanics of heart attacks
- Treated stage II and IV breast cancer tissue will be studied to continue research into breast cancer treatment
- Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded brain tissue from Alzheimer’s patients is going to be critical to studying the etiology of the disease and possible treatments/detection
- Cerebrospinal fluid from both normal and infected patients has been requested to study meningitis
The willingness of patients to help others by allowing the use of their remnant specimens, and in many cases specimens taken expressly for research purposes, is making a huge difference in our collective futures. iSpecimen proudly encourages everyone to speak with their care providers about opportunities to donate and support the advancement of medicine.