In early 2016, a patient with a metastastic broncho-pulmonary NET made a direct approach to her oncologist, Dr Ben Lawrence (a principal investigator of the NETwork! team). The patient wished to donate her tumour tissues through rapid autopsy on her natural death. Her hope was to contribute to biological understanding which might help those who followed her.

Genomic analysis of tissues from rapid autopsy programmes has transformed our understanding of cancer. However, these programmes are not yet established in New Zealand.

A viewpoint article recently published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, summarises the ethical, logistical and social process undertaken to accept this patient’s generous donation, and highlights the scientific and educational value of such a gift.

The donor handed responsibility to the research team to use this gift for the good of others, and this ethos forms the basis for our ongoing work. We honour the incredible foresight and generosity shown by the donor and her family in championing this research.