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Donating Tissue for Medical Research

Researchers at West Virginia University and their collaborators are striving to learn more about cancer and other diseases. Much of this research is done on human tissue. This resource will give you information about the use of human tissue in research and what it means to be a tissue donor.

Why is research done with human tissue important?

Research with human tissue can help to discover more about the causes of cancer, how to prevent it, how to treat it, and how to cure it. Research using human tissue can also help answer questions about other health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.

Your care is always our first priority.

Any tissue removed from your body will always be used first and foremost to diagnose what, if anything, is wrong with you and how you can best be treated. Choosing to donate tissue does not require removal of any extra tissue or change the care you will receive in any way.

Who can donate tissue and where will the tissue be kept?

Anyone undergoing treatment at West Virginia University can become a tissue donor. Your doctor may ask you to donate your tissue whether or not you are in good health. If you donate your tissue, it will be stored in the WVU Tissue Bank until a researcher who studies human tissue asks the Tissue Bank for a tissue sample. When a specimen is given to a researcher the tissue is deidentified and results can in no way be traced back to you. No information that identifies you by name will be given to any of the researchers.

What type of research will be done with your tissue?

Many different kinds of studies may be done on human tissue. Some researchers may be able to develop new ways to treat or cure diseases. Some of the researchers may help to develop new products, such as drugs and tests for diseases.

Who will do research on the donated tissue?

Researchers at WVU will primarily use this tissue. However, there may also be collaborative efforts with other universities and biotechnology companies.

Will you find out the results of the research?

Neither you nor your doctor will receive the results of research done with your tissue. Results from research using your tissue may not be ready for many years and will not affect your care right now, but the results of the research may be helpful to people like you in the future. When a specimen is given to a researcher the tissue is deidentified and results can in no way be traced back to you. For these reasons, the results will not appear in your medical records.

Will anyone have access to your medical records?

In order to understand the significance of the research done on your tissue, researchers may need to know some things about you, for example, your gender, your age, your health history, your family history, and basic demographics. Basic information will be collected at the time of tissue banking. The basic non-identifying information will be given to the researchers by the Tissue Bank staff. Researchers will not have access to your medical records.

Will your privacy be protected?

Your privacy will be protected. The staff of the WVU Tissue Bank take careful steps to protect any private information about you. Any identifying personal information will be taken off any record associated with your tissue before it is studied and a code number will be assigned to the tissue. This will prevent any research results to be linked to you or your family.

Are there any risks to you for donating tissue?

There are no medical risks to you. Because the study results will not be entered into your medical record, your insurance will not be affected in any way.

Are there any financial considerations?

There will be no costs to you if you agree to donate your tissue for research. Nor will you receive any money for donating your tissue.

Will you benefit from this research?

There will be no direct medical or personal benefit to you as a result of donating your tissue. However, the researchers hope to learn from this research and be able to help others in the future.