A Broken Hospital Freezer Ruins 150 Brains

Human Brain(Actual ruined brain not pictured).

Photo: Shutterstock

One-hundred and 50 brains thawed and decayed after a freezer at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. stopped working, The Boston Globe’s Karen Weintraub reports.  The freezer contained tissue samples from people who had died with a neurological or psychiatric condition. About one-third of the samples were part of the world’s largest collection of autism brains.

The tragic occurrence could set research on the developmental disorder back by a decade neuropathologist Carlos Pardo told Weintraub.  

The brain samples were supposed to be kept at a chilly minus-112 degrees Fahrenheit. When the issue was discovered on May 31, the freezer was around 45 degrees, or about the temperature of a refrigerator, Weintraub writes.   

Apparently two alarms installed to warn of thermostat problems failed to go off.

The hospital is now investigating potential causes of the malfunction.  

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