Autistic Brains Ruined in Freezer Meltdown

Harvard-affiliated hospital freezer suffers inexplicable failure
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2012 3:33 PM CDT
Freezer Meltdown Hobbles Autism Research
A freezer malfunction in a Harvard-affiliated hospital left 50 autism brains nearly useless for research.   (Shutterstock)

A freezer failure has severely damaged one third of the world's largest collection of autistic brains, leaving researchers baffled and upset, the Boston Globe reports. The meltdown occurred at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, where the fridge thermostat malfunctioned and two alarms failed to go off when the temperature rose from -112 to 44 degrees Fahrenheit. "This was a priceless collection," said one doctor. "You can’t express its value in dollar amounts."

Of the 150 damaged brains, 50 had autism, and the rest had Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and psychiatric ailments like schizophrenia. But the loss of autistic brains alone could stifle research into the disorder for years. Even worse would be if donors hear about the meltdown and stop giving autistic brains, said one doctor: "This shouldn’t dissuade people from continuing to donate, because it is the most important resource that autism science has right now." (More autism stories.)

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