Legal and regulatory update
The Human Tissue Act received royal assent on 15th November, 2004, but its provisions will not come into force until the Secretary of State makes relevant orders by statutory instrument, which is expected to happen after 1st April, 2006. The Act will repeal and replace the Human Tissue Act 1961, the Anatomy Act 1984 and the Human Organ Transplants Act 1989. Pressure to introduce new measures arose following the public scandal surrounding the retention and use of organs and tissues from children at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and the Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital, without proper consent. The purpose of the Act is to set up a framework that makes consent the foundation of all lawful activities involving whole body donation and the removal, storage and use of human organs and tissues for transplantation, anatomical examination, education, training and research. The Act does not cover gametes or embryos outside the human body, activities in relation to which are governed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Nor does the Act cover the removal of material from living persons, although it does cover the storage and use of such material. The current law relating to removal of material from living persons without their consent will continue to apply.
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