Human Tissue Act 2004

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Human Tissue Act 2004[1]
Long titleAn Act to make provision with respect to activities involving human tissue; to make provision about the transfer of human remains from certain museum collections; and for connected purposes.
Citation2004 c 30
Territorial extentEngland, Northern Ireland and Wales
Royal assent15 November 2004
Text of statute as originally enacted
Revised text of statute as amended

The Human Tissue Act 2004 (c 30) is an act of the UK parliament applying to England, Northern Ireland and Wales. It consolidates previous legislation and created the Human Tissue Authority to "regulate the removal, storage, use and disposal of human bodies, organs and tissue."[2]

The Act was brought about as a consequence of, among things, the Alder Hey organs scandal,[2] in which organs of children had been retained by the Alder Hey Children's Hospital without consent, and the Kennedy inquiry into heart surgery on children at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. A consultative exercise followed the Government's Green Paper, Human Bodies, Human Choices (2002), and earlier recommendations by the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson.

The Act allows for anonymous organ donation (previously, living people could only donate organs to those to whom they had a genetic or emotional connection),[3] and requires licences for those intending to publicly display human remains, such as BODIES... The Exhibition.[4] The Act also specifies that in cases of organ donation after death the wishes of the deceased takes precedence over the wishes of relatives,[5] but a parliamentary report concluded in 2006 that the Act likely would fail in this regard since most surgeons would be unwilling to confront families in such situations.[6]

The Act prohibits selling organs. In 2007 a man became the first person convicted under the Act for trying to sell his kidney online for £24,000 in order to pay off his gambling debts.[7]

The Act does not extend to Scotland; its counterpart there is the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006.

Section 60 - Commencement[edit]

The following orders have been made under this section:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The citation of this Act by this short title is authorised by section 61 of this Act.
  2. ^ a b "Q&A: Human Tissue Act". BBC News Online. 30 August 2006. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  3. ^ "Strangers allowed to give organs". BBC News Online. 25 April 2006.
  4. ^ "Body parts shows to need licences". BBC News Online. 15 May 2006.
  5. ^ "Radical changes for organ donors". BBC News Online. 31 August 2006.
  6. ^ "Transplant law 'likely to fail'". BBC News Online. 15 October 2006.
  7. ^ Stephanie Condron (11 May 2007). "Gambler tried to sell his kidney online". The Daily Telegraph.

Further reading[edit]