Advancing Brain Tumor Research Through Tissue Donation

Brain tumors are the second most common type of cancer in children and the leading cause of childhood death. Losing a child to a brain tumor can be one of the toughest things a family goes through. When a child’s life ends too soon, families can honor their legacy by donating valuable tissue used in research studies to find a cure for cancer.

As one of just six Centers of Excellence for Gift from a Child, a national initiative supported by families who have lost children to brain cancer, Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is able to support families who want to help other children battling cancer. At your request, the Neuro-Oncology Therapeutic Lab at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer will extract cancerous tissue samples through surgery or autopsy at the end of life. The tissue will be studied extensively, and the data shared with organizations worldwide. These strategic partnerships with Gift from a Child and other medical professionals are designed to accelerate breakthrough cancer research, improve treatment options and ultimately cure childhood brain cancer.

Orlando Health Arnold Palmer was selected as a Center of Excellence for Gift from a Child because of our ability to grow cell lines using donated tissue samples, allowing the benefits of the tissue to begin immediately. Each sample is treated as a precious resource, handled with the highest level of respect and care.

Gift from a Child is an initiative of the Swifty Foundation, which is dedicated to raising funds and awareness for pediatric brain cancer research.

Meet our Tissue Navigator, Migdalia Martinez

Migdalia “Mig” Martinez is the tissue navigator at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. She assists families with all aspects of tissue donation, providing needed support each step of the way.

Mig’s love for research began in 2013 when she became a Research Lab Assistant on more than 35 phase II-IV clinical trials for neurological disorders in pediatric, adolescent, adults and geriatric patients. After seeing how clinical research provides hope and improves lives, Mig decided to make research a life-long career.

Mig joined Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in 2015 serving as a clinical research data manager/biorepository coordinator for the pediatric Brain Tumor Program. In 2018, Mig joined the Neuro-Oncology Translational Lab at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer, where she is dedicated to brain tumor tissue collection, processing and storage. She works together with other institutions and shares donated tissue collected from  surgery and autopsies with collaborators.  

Every day, her love for cancer research grows. What started as a job has become a mission. Mig feels fortunate for the opportunity to talk to families and educate them about research and the importance of tissue donation in the fight against childhood cancer, especially brain cancer.

“I am an advocate to find a cure; it is my mission to create awareness about how we can help,” said Mig. “The Gift from a Child program offers great resources for families to donate their loved one’s tissue and bring hope to future generations. This gift creates a legacy and preserves a memory. I’m honored to be a part of this team.

Frequently Asked Questions about Tissue Donation