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A Career of Caring Leads to a Love of Research

The Brain Donor Project is featuring stories during this Brain Awareness Week of those who’ll donate their brain to neurologic research when they die. For some, it is highly personal, inspired by someone they love. For many, it’s a natural way to leave a gift at the end of their life. In our minds’ eye we see a better future thanks to brain research. In these “Mind’s Why” articles, we uncover our donors’ reasons for advancing science. Today, Peggy’s story.

Peggy in her nursing uniformPeggy loved being a nurse. She started her career back in the 1950’s as an operating room nurse where she worked for five years before leaving to raise nine children. She liked the excitement of the OR – though there were limitations.

“There wasn’t a whole lot going on back when I started,” she recalls. “We didn’t have ventilators. There were no intensive care units, no recovery rooms.”

There were brain surgeons, but she says they couldn’t do much. And mortality rates were high, which made it tough sometimes. When her youngest started school, Peggy returned to nursing, this time in pediatric cardiac ICU. She loves staying on top of the progress that’s been made in medicine.

“I’m definitely interested in research! Look what they’ve been able to learn!” she says.

Like many of us, Peggy wasn’t aware of the urgent need for people to donate their brains, learning about it after the death of a dear friend from dementia. That’s what prompted her decision. And although she didn’t think about it at the time, several members of her family have been impacted by other kinds of brain disease.

“I’m donating my brain because it’s possible to be part of a large group of people who are helping research to someday learn all the different kinds of abnormalities that can happen to your brain and if there’s a way to prevent them or make them less of a problem to the patient.”

Any advice to people considering brain donation?

“There’s no reason not to do it. You can’t use it after you’re gone. It’s hard enough now…at 85 it’s not so good. But I’m going to hang onto it until then.”

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