(537)  HUMAN TISSUES BILL PASSED

 

The Human Tissues (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 2 February 2006 and received Royal Assent on 16 March.  The new Act deals inter alia with two significant issues: transplantation and post-mortem examinations.  On transplantation it sets out Scottish Ministers’ duties as respects transplantation, makes provision for the authorisation of the use of parts of the body of a deceased person for purposes of transplantation, research, etc, contains restrictions on transplants involving living donors, and prohibits commercial dealings in human body parts for transplantation.  Authorisation by the deceased person may have been given in writing or orally, but if the latter then it must have been before two witnesses.  Nearest relatives may also give authorization for the use of a deceased person’s body parts for purposes of transplantation.  The nearest relative may not give authorisation if he or she has actual knowledge that the adult was unwilling for any part of the adult’s body, or the part in question, to be used for transplantation; but ‘unwillingness’ should not be implied simply by the fact that the adult had not provided authorisation as respects the particular purpose, use or part.  On post mortems, where a key piece of background was the practice of unauthorized retention of deceased persons’ organs by hospitals, there is provision requiring authorisation of hospital post-mortem examinations and removal and retention of organs by an adult or mature child while still alive, or, failing such authorisation, by a nominee of the person or by his or her nearest relative, and, for children, authorisation by a person with parental rights and responsibilities.  None of this affects the power of a procurator fiscal to instruct post mortems.  The Act also amends the Anatomy Act 1984, which governs the use of cadavers and body parts for the purposes of anatomical examination, the principal purpose being: to allow for the practice of surgical reconstruction to be carried out on bodies and body parts and also the practice of removing whole organs and parts of organs by healthcare professionals; prevent any unlicensed exhibition of bodies and body parts in public exhibitions under the guise of education or art, and enable the post of HM Inspector of Anatomy for Scotland to continue following changes in England and Wales.

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