The scandal relating to the practice of organ



There are many issues associating to the rights of ownership and control in relation variety meats and tissue. Who can legitimately possess a dead organic structure? Who can give consent to the remotion and keeping of variety meats and tissue? Who so owns or is entitled to these organic structure parts, and do they have the right to purchase and sell them? Can hive away organic structure parts be used in research? Is consent required for this, and if so, whose consent? Can belongings rights be recognised in the organic structure? These and other inquiries have late been the Centre of a argument on maintained variety meats, peculiarly in the visible radiation of recent disclosures around the issue or organ remotion and keeping.

The dirt associating to this in the UK foremost came to light via the Public Inquiry into children’s bosom surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary [ 1 ] In this paper I intend to analyze what happened in this dirt at the BRI and the Alder Hey infirmary.

I so intend to analyze the jurisprudence as it stood so in peculiar the commissariats in the Human Tissue Act 1961, and the alterations enacted in the Human Tissue Act 2004. In peculiar I will discourse the construct of consent and the issue of belongings rights in the organic structure, set within a theoretical model.

Medical moralss is basically how we evaluate the hazards and virtues of research and pattern in the field of medical specialty. There is a immense scope of medical moralss theories to take from, and ethical minds have suggested many ways to assist measure a state of affairs, and supply rules that physicians should see when doing hard determinations.

Ethical quandary can originate where two or more classs of action could be justified, and it is hard for the medical practician to cognize which is the ‘right’ thing to make. In looking for an ethical solution to such a quandary the practician can look to his or her ain morality, or the morality of the community that surrounds them, and besides use moralss as an established model of values from which to debate the rightness or inappropriateness of an action.

Beauchamp and Childress suggest utilizing the thought of ‘principilism’ [ 2 ] They argue that there are four key rules which should be reflected on in order to do certain that behavior is ethically appropriate. These are:

  1. The rule of regard for liberty – the thought that we are independent moral agents with the right to take how we live our life.
  2. The rule of beneficience – that of making good wherever possible
  3. The rule of non malfience –not making injury to others
  4. The rule of justness – dainty all people reasonably

This is by no means the universally accepted theoretical account and there have been a figure of philosophical theories act uponing medical moralss, in peculiar deontological and useful.

The most celebrated deontological theory was advanced by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant stressed that every individual should be treated as an terminal in himself instead than as a agency to an terminal, in kernel we should non utilize others but respect their unity as persons

He stated that actions are morally incorrect if they are inconsistent with a individual as a free and rational being, and that, acts that further the position of people, as free and rational existences are morally right.

Deontological theories focus on what is right and incorrect, they are non concerned with the effects of the act but they want to place the characteristics of the act that grade it as morally acceptable or otherwise.

Critics of this attack emphasis that this theory is really inflexible, and does non give weight to human intuition of what is right and incorrect. Furthermore a more flexible attack would pay more attending of the effect of action, and this is what utilitarianism tries to accomplish.

Authoritative utilitarianism stressed that the trial of the morality of an action was the extent to which it had good effects, in that whether it gives pleasance or hurting.

The useful step of a good act would hence be the maximization of felicity. However this is non a formula for hedonism, and modern utilitarianism acknowledge the importance of regulations to place moral ends and forestall the felicity of the many from dominating the rights of the few.

Broad individuality besides takes a consequentiality attack and expression at the effects of determinations on persons. They believe that the fulfillment of the person is the good that society should prosecute, and the ideal society is one where the person makes his ain determinations every bit far as possible, exerting his ain liberty, but non curtailing others.

Standing about in complete resistance to this theory are the comparatively new Communitarian theories.

Communitarianism emphasises really different values and concerns. Alternatively of an individualist doctrine Communitarianism shifts the focal point of involvement toward communities and societies and off from the person. Autonomy is to be expressed but non on an egoistic footing, instead it is a province that is modified by the sharing of values with others in the society.

It relies on both deontological and useful thought, and emphasizes the effects of single determinations and stresses the duties we owe to those around us.

One country frequently overlooked within medical moralss has been the influence of spiritual theories. Although we now live in a secular society the impact of spiritual believing on medical moralss has been interlinked for a centuries. Basically the relationship can be looked at as adult male in a duologue with a God or religious force steering the manner we treat the human organic structure.

For illustration Christians believe that human life is a gift from God which can non be interfered with or disposed of by other human existences. These values are so translated into practical regulations refering mercy killing, abortion and non-intervention in human reproduction.

The impact of faith on medical moralss should non be underestimated, nor should it be mocked, as sometimes they may be the lone voice inquiring hard and awkward inquiries.

However liberty is by far the most important value to act upon modern-day medical jurisprudence. Autonomy defined rather literally, is self-rule. If we have autonomy we make our ain determinations on the footing of deliberation. Respect for liberty is besides sometimes described, in Kantian footings, as handling others as terminals in themselves and ne’er simply as agencies to an terminal. [ 3 ]

In the medical universe esteeming people ‘s liberty has many Primas facie deductions. It requires wellness attention professionals to obtain informed consent from patients before handling them, and it requires physicians to adhere to medical confidentiality.

The chief push of ‘autonomy’ is the insisting that an person should hold the ultimate control over their organic structures ; they should do their ain determinations associating to medical intervention, and should non be hindered in their hunt for self-fulfilment. This has led to a really different relationship developing between the physician and patient and alterations have been reflected in the manner medical specialty is lawfully regulated.

There is no uncertainty that liberty has brought protection for people from insensitive intervention and development, and has given power to the single confronting the professional. Health attention workers now need to be able to pass on good with their patients, and listen every bit good as offering diagnosing.

However it must be remembered that the claims of liberty must be moderated to besides suit the sensitiveness of the physician who is an independent agent every bit good. For illustration, liberty may let mercy killing, nevertheless what about the liberty of the physician who is asked to administrate a drug, and does non desire to make it. In kernel Autonomy should be measured against the demands of society as a whole.

Until a few decennaries ago medical specialty was doubtless paternalistic, it was common non to give the patient a batch of information, and to make this in the ‘best involvements of the patient” . However such pattern is now seen as unethical in modern medical specialty, yet illustrations still occur.

IN the late 1990’s there was a batch of authorities and independent enquiries after the dirt of Alder Hey kids ‘s infirmary in Liverpool, and the Bristol Royal Infirmary – where the variety meats of kids who died were retained without the cognition of their parents. A figure of the enquiries made clear that although some of the diagnosticians did non inquire for the permission of the parents, others had failed to make so for paternalistic grounds as they wanted to protect the parents from farther hurt at clearly a really emotional clip.

The president of the Royal College of Pathologists said at the clip:

“No one of all time had enthusiasm for discoursing the elaborate necropsy procedure with late bereaved relations, and it was ever more comfy to pull a head covering over it…there remains the ineluctable and uncomfortable fact that in the past station mortem organ keeping has been a premier illustration of professional paternalism” [ 4 ]

Although paternalism has doubtless caused jobs, it is unneeded to reject it wholly. For illustration if a individual is incapable of doing a determination, due to a disenabling status the advantage of paternalistic intercession will outweigh the disadvantage.

Paternalism and liberty I believe, should non be seem as reciprocally sole, and it is the undertaking of medical moralss and jurisprudence to strike a balance between them heightening liberty but non suppressing the usage of discretion.

The distinguishing characteristic of modern medical specialty is the importance attached to experimentation and research, and it was this alteration that has brought medical specialty under more cardinal control, and there is no uncertainty that medical specialty demands to run within a system of legal regulations.

The hard inquiry is so how far should medical determinations be the object of legal examination. From one point of position there are physicians who think the jurisprudence is excessively blunt an instrument to be able to undertake the ethical quandary they face, and in this sense they should be left to modulate themselves.

Conversely anticipating physicians to make up one’s mind issues of life and decease puts an country of legitimate public concern into the custodies of wellness attention professionals, when certainly it is an country of societal policy. In kernel there have been cardinal alterations in the physician patient relationship, and hence in the jurisprudence / medicine relationship as a consequence.

Organ keeping

The pattern or organ and tissue keeping came to visible radiation in Bristol in 1998 when it became clear that staff at the infirmary had been maintaining Black Marias following surgery at the infirmary. The dirt at Alder Hey surfaced about by chance when Professor Robert Anderson a bosom specializer revealed at a separate functionary enquiry into bosom surgery at Bristol, that a shop of kids ‘s Black Marias was kept at Alder Hey.

The first interim study from the Public Inquiry at Bristol showed that after station mortems from kids who had died following bosom surgery, tissue had consistently been removed from the kids for a assortment of intents such as research, medical instruction or it had merely been stored. [ 5 ] These processs had taken topographic point without the cognition of the parents and many were incognizant that they had buried their kids without their bosom or other variety meats.

However, the bulk of the station mortems investigated by the Bristol Inquiry were coronial necropsies, where no consent is required from the parents. In these instances a station mortem is ordered by the medical examiner to set up a cause of decease, the diagnostician, must so take variety meats from the organic structure for scrutiny. Rule 9 of the Coroners Rules permits stuff to be retained, which may assist to set up cause of decease for every bit long as the medical examiner decides is necessary. [ 6 ]

For illustration, in order to take slides from a encephalon it has to sit in formol for six hebdomads, hence encephalons were frequently removed and kept whilst the organic structure would be released for burial. Once the medical examiner is satisfied that variety meats and tissue are no longer necessary to set up cause of decease, so authorization to retain variety meats ends.

However it was found by the Bristol study that pathologists frequently retained the variety meats merely because they were ne’er expressly instructed to dispose of or return the variety meats, and pathologists erroneously assumed they were entitled to maintain them, although there is no uncertainty that this is non justifiable under the Coroners Act 1989.

A smaller figure of instances at Bristol allowed for an necropsy to be performed under the authorization of the Human Tissue Act 1961. This meant that the infirmary had to hold made sensible enquiry as may be operable as to whether the asleep or any living relation objected to the station mortem. Furthermore in order to retain organic structure portion after station mortem the infirmary must ask as to whether the relations or the asleep object to this.

One of the jobs identified with the 1961 act is the fact that it is non mandate that the infirmary is seeking, but not – expostulation on the portion of the relations or the deceased, which the statue does non assist to specify.

In pattern infirmaries used consent signifiers in order to set up non-objection. However the Bristol enquiry found that these signifiers could change tremendously some could even be a individual sentence scribbled on a piece of paper. The enquiry found that:

“Forms for infirmary station mortems were sufficiently obscure and employed such unfamiliar footings that they were non understood or remembered. Indeed it is highly dubious that the linguistic communication used in the signifiers made sufficiently clear to parents ( I ) what a station mortem entailed ( two ) the fortunes, if any, under which tissue might be removed and retained ; ( three ) the removing and retaining of it ; and ( four ) what was meant by “tissue”.” [ 7 ]

The issue of non understanding what could be meant by tissue was really of import as many of the parents did non gain that accepting to the remotion of tissue meant the remotion and keeping of a whole bosom. The fact that the parents were left experiencing that their involvements had been ignored is barely unexpected.

Furthermore, it is non surprising that the media took up the narrative, and the documents ran with the most lurid narratives that focussed on the ‘arrogance’ of the medical profession:

“ ” It was an haughtiness Born of indifference. The medical profession acted with good purposes, as they saw it, but they ne’er thought to inquire whether their position was shared by others” [ 8 ]

It is of import so to read the studies from Bristol and Alder Hey as conducted within a clime where public trust had been lost, and intelligibly the concerns of the parents were paramount.

The chief points of the Bristol study were foremost the demand to affect the parents and inform them of the picks they face, urging that consent should be sought for both a coronial and a infirmary station mortem. The information given to parents would include stuff about why an necropsy is necessary, they should be told about the station mortem itself, they should be told what human stuff will be kept, i.e. variety meats, and tissue should be distinguished, and the intent it will be used for, whether it be research, file awaying, instruction or audit. Parents should so be allowed clip for contemplation one time they have been given this information.

The study goes on to province that diagnosticians have no legal authorization to retain organic structure parts or tissue from either a infirmary or a coronial station mortem, despite the fact that this has been go oning, and suggested that they must “cede lawful ownership to the parents if requested to make so” [ 9 ]

One of the jobs pointed out with the study has been the usage of the phrase ‘human material” which was used to include, tissue, variety meats and amputated limbs. If parents are entitled ( as the study suggests ) to hold any human stuff returned to them for entombment or cremation, so it follows that in some instances it could merely be a tissue sample preserved on a slide, which would be pathetic. [ 10 ]

Although it is clear that they wanted to mention to it as human stuff in order to show to the parents they understood that the samples were portion of the kid, there are jobs in blending tissue, variety meats and amputated limbs as strictly ‘human material’

Whilst giving grounds to the Bristol question, Professor R H Anderson alluded to the aggregation of Black Marias at Royal Liverpool Childrens NHS Trust ( Alder Hey Children’s infirmary ) , which so resulted in another enquiry into organ keeping at the infirmary.

The study chaired by Michael Redfern QC and whilst corroborating that patterns at Bristol were non alone, it catalogued dismaying mistakes and failures on behalf of the clinical staff.

It became evident that organ reaping at Alder Hey was such an established pattern that even parents whose kids had died decennaries ago found that variety meats had been removed before the organic structures before they were released to the households. Even when the infirmary told parents that variety meats were losing from the organic structures of their dead kids, the some parents were still non given the whole truth.

For illustration the parents of a kid called ‘Thomas’ agreed to an necropsy in the hope that information about their boy could assist other kids, nevertheless they refused to hold to organ keeping after the postmortem, and yet Thomas’s bosom was retained. [ 11 ]

In some instances parents had their child’s organic structure returned to them for entombment merely to confront the torment of another funeral merely months subsequently when another organ or piece of tissue was besides returned.

A chief concern of the study was the behavior of the diagnostician Professor Dick new wave Velzen, who admitted utilizing some variety meats for research intents without the permission of the medical examiner or the consent of parents. Furthermore it seems that the stuff stored by the infirmary was non put to any usage, therefore the justification of organ keeping on the footing of the public good could barely be relied on.

Van Velzen, in bend blamed the infirmary for the pattern of organ keeping, stating that he removed and stored the variety meats of 845 kids because he did non hold the resources from the infirmary to transport out elaborate station mortems and that he had ever hoped to finish them one twenty-four hours.

However in footings of recommendations the Bristol and Alder Hey studies remained similar. In peculiar the Alder Hey study suggests that for carry oning a station mortem on a kid that “fully informed consent is required and nil less will do” This would necessitate all the information being relayed to the parents “ no affair how unsavory the giving of this information may be to the clinician concerned” [ 12 ]

Like the Bristol study, Alder Hey pointed to the jobs around consent, in peculiar ‘consent’ based on misinterpretation, and consent given in conditions where the relation may non hold been able to appreciate what they had agreed to.

However the Alder hey study suggested that:

“Once the consent signifier had been signed we favour the following of blood-related releasing farther control…A more broad attitude should be considered with respect to the keeping and usage of tissue, peculiarly in the signifier of wax blocks and slides. These are of an priceless benefit for research and learning. They may besides be an of import resource for households who may seek entree to archived stuff for the benefit of their household and future generations…once to the full informed consent has been obtained for keeping and usage, the infirmaries set abouting to utilize it and to dispose of the balance should be enough” [ 13 ]

This is an of import differentiation which the Bristol inquiry study does non do, foremost as they are separating tissue from the organic structure and organic structure parts themselves and secondly because they consider the long term deductions for research if the following of family was to retain continued control of the tissue. However both enquiries have pointed to the importance of the function of consent, and it is to this issue that I now turn.

Consent / Body as belongings

In 2002 the Retained Organs Commission outlined a set of ‘clear ethical principles’ to cover voluntary station mortems. [ 14 ]

They believed this should include the thought of informed consent, which would guarantee that permission is sought and given on the footing of to the full informed pick, Furthermore it suggested giving household members clip and infinite to see whether to hold to the station mortem and organ contribution or non, alternatively of experiencing under force per unit area to hold in the minutes after decease.

The value of the consent theoretical account has been accepted in modern-day medical jurisprudence and moralss, and it has come to be treated as being synonymous with liberty. The common jurisprudence itself has long recognised the rule that bodily unity must be protected against invasion by others.

Furthermore in YF V Turkey ( 2004 ) [ 15 ] it was held that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the physical and psychological unity of the individual, and that mandatory medical intercession is an intervention of this right, irrespective of whether or non consent has been obtained.

Ultimately consent is built on the strong moral strong belief that everyone has the right of self-government with respect to his organic structure. However, how does this use to the deceased?

John Harris has argued that the basis of medical moralss is ‘respect for persons’ [ 16 ] This in itself is two crease, encompassing:

  1. Respect for liberty
  2. Concern for public assistance

Autonomy is the ability and freedom to do picks which so give intending to an individual’s life. Concern for public assistance includes freedom from hurting, mobility and entree to shelter, and helps to supply the fortunes in which liberty can be maximised. Informed consent is a portion of regard for individuals in that when we consent we make others programs and objectives our ain, non-consent for our ain benefit would non be acceptable.

However he argues that this theoretical account is non appropriate when sing the function of consent in posthumous organ keeping, as consent in this sphere is non like in other medical context.

He points to the fact that consent is meant to ease liberty, or to protect bodily unity from Acts of the Apostless that would be a misdemeanor. Autonomy necessitates the ability to do picks, nevertheless the dead do non hold such capacity, nor do they hold penchants, or desires. Furthermore they can non hold their bodily unity violated, as this would necessitate an component of consent which they can non give.

Harris argues that we have independent penchants about what happens to our organic structures after decease, but this is non a misdemeanor of liberty. He suggests that all people have ‘persisting interests’ that survive their decease, and that although he agrees that these involvements should be respected, any wants of a dead individual as to post mortem personal businesss should be respected due to the “reasonable demands of public interest”

The statement goes that the demand to esteem involvements “is weaker than the duty to esteem the rights of life individuals to bodily unity or freedom from physical violation” [ 17 ] Therefore he is stating the theoretical justification for giving primacy to the wants of the deceased, and their relations is now undermined. It is non that consent isn’t a justification, but that other justification is needed.

The ultimate success of Harris theory depends on how much weight is attached to the persisting involvements of the deceased.

Professor Margaret Brazier argues that this theory underplays the significance and weight that should be given to involvements after a individual has died. Using the illustration of a will she suggests that a individual can go forth their estate to whomever they wish, this can merely be challenged by close household or dependants, and yet the wants of the deceased are paramount in such a state of affairs. [ 18 ]

One of the simplest grounds as to why we can non go forth organic structures and bodily parts like stuff goods in a will is because in common jurisprudence there is “no belongings in a corpse.” [ 19 ] Therefore the cadaver can non be protected by rights, and there is no ‘ownership of a dead organic structure.

This regulation still holds true today, in the more recent Australian instance of Calmar v Sesar [ 20 ] , the tribunals had to make up one’s mind a instance refering the ownership of the organic structure of an Aboriginal male child by his parents, who were in difference over where to bury him. They reiterated that the parents did non have the organic structure, nevertheless they had equal right to ownership of the organic structure for burial.

At the same clip as the tribunal has stated that there is no belongings in a cadaver, they have besides developed a rule whereby parts of a cadaver that had been ‘worked on’ could give it monetary value and do it belongings.

In Doodeward V Spence [ 21 ] , the High Court of Australia decided that a two-headed babe could be belongings because of the ‘work and skill’ extended in the preserving of it.

IN R V Kelly [ 22 ] the Court of Appeal in the United Kingdom was faced with the inquiry of whether a junior technician of the Royal College of Surgeons who had removed organic structure parts for usage by an creative person ( for molds in his sculpture ) was a stealer.

The tribunal held that the regulation that there is no belongings in a cadaver merely applies to a cadaver or parts which remain in their natural province, and that:

“…parts of a cadaver are capable of being property…if they have acquired different properties by virtuousness of the application of accomplishment, such as dissection or saving techniques, for exhibition or learning purposes” [ 23 ]

In this instance it was accepted that work had been done on the organic structure parts so they became specimens owned by the Royal College of Surgeons. Furthermore the tribunal went on to propose that the thought that there is no belongings in a cadaver is now so entrenched in the common jurisprudence that merely a statute law could now alter this.

IN Dobson v North Tyneside Health Authority [ 24 ] the tribunal discussed if there were any possessory rights over a cadaver, and is, who was entitled to them. In this instance the relations of a adult female who had died of a encephalon tumor brought a carelessness action against the wellness authorization for non naming the status in clip, nor naming it decently.

In order to set up that the tumors were malignant, samples from the deceased’s encephalon had excessively be taken, nevertheless the infirmary had already disposed of it. The relations so alleged that the infirmary had converted ‘property’ to which the household had been entitled.

The tribunal held that the relations had no right of ownership of the encephalon, or of the cadaver. The possessory right to a cadaver is enjoyed by the decision maker or executor, and none had been appointed in this instance. Furthermore this possessory right would merely be with the position to burial or disposal of the cadaver. This instance besides approved the stance taken in Doodeward & A ; Spence whereby any belongings right that accrues, does so to the individual who does the work on the cadaver.

“…when a individual has by lawful exercising of work or skill so dealt with a human organic structure or portion of a human organic structure in his lawful ownership, that it has acquired some properties distinguishing it from a mere cadaver expecting burial, he acquires a right to retain ownership of it, at least as against any individual non entitled to hold it delivered to him for the intents of burial” [ 25 ]

However it remains that the belongings right that comes into being is capable to the right of those with the right to ownership for entombment.

Property Model

Property rights imply ownership, and a strong manner of commanding and protecting our involvements. Some theoreticians have suggested that recognizing belongings rights in organic structures may be a agency of fostering the individuals’ involvements.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics considered this affair in relation to issues of ownership and proprietary involvements in populating bodily material. They rejected this theoretical account in favor of the impression of endowing. There is no uncertainty that gifting has strong normative entreaty, and can be seen in the context of selflessness and beneficence instead than self involvement. However the linguistic communication of endowing besides has proprietary elements, as gifting is one manner of reassigning belongings, yet it must be noted that it besides entails the surrendering of all residuary involvement in the belongings that has been gifted. [ 26 ]

However, is it now appropriate in this twenty-four hours and age to see endowing the best manner to donate 1s organic structure ( or a portion of it ) to science. We can no longer disregard the fact that stuff taken from the organic structure can be of immense commercial and indirect value, as can be seen in the instance of Moore V Regents. [ 27 ]

Mr Moore suffered from hairy cell leukemia, and his physician Dr David Golde had removed his hypertrophied lien in order to detain the procedure of the disease. Without stating Mr Moore the physician retained parts of the lien for research, detecting that cells from the lien had potentially good belongingss, and developed a valuable cell line that was subsequently patented and sold to a drug company for 15 million dollars.

Moore brought an action against the university, the research workers and the drug company when he discovered the truth and claimed a portion in the returns. He alleged transition, as he was the proprietor of the cells and his belongings right had been compromised by the work carried out on them.

He besides alleged breach of fiducial responsibility and deficiency of informed consent, as he was ne’er told of the possible usage of his cells, and hence had ne’er given his full informed understanding. The Californian Supreme tribunal upheld both of these last two claims, but rejected transition.

They argued that Moore had no proprietary involvement in the removed cells, foremost because there was no case in point to be found on which a claim could be granted, and that recognizing single belongings rights in organic structure parts would impede medical research tremendously. As one justice pointed out ;

“In consequence what Mr Moore is inquiring us to make is to enforce a civil wrong responsibility on scientists to look into the consensual lineage of each homo cell used in research” [ 28 ]

However some observers have pointed out the sarcasm of this determination lying in the dissentient opinion of Broussard J:

“…the majority’s analysis can non rest on the wide proposition that a removed portion is non belongings, but…on the proposition that a patient retains no involvements in a organic structure portion once the organic structure portion has been removed” [ 29 ]

Basically, the person is denied belongings rights in their ain excised bodily parts, but 3rd parties can derive a belongings involvement and travel on to protect these involvements via the jurisprudence of patents.

However there are many statements against the acknowledgment of proprietary involvements in the organic structure, organic structure parts or tissue, in relation to a cadaver or during life.

Lorna Skene points to the emotional repulsion at a social degree that would be felt, if people were selling their organic structures and organic structure parts, and besides the damaging consequence it may hold on the tissue aggregations held by infirmaries. She suggests that the best manner to set up extended pathology aggregations is to retain the rule that research workers have belongings involvements in it, non the people it has come from. [ 30 ]

Furthermore there is besides the anxiousness that the commercialization of organic structure parts would take to development, nevertheless the point that merely because something is potentially exploitatory does non intend that it will ever be so. Exploitation can be avoided if the market were decently regulated, and it has been argued that non acknowledgment may perpetuate development, as non acknowledgment has done nil to forestall a booming black market in variety meats and tissue. [ 31 ]


There is no uncertainty that after decease the human organic structure can non stay integral for long. However Professor John Harris has suggested that in the aftermath of the Bristol and Alder Hey disclosures that there has ensued a bizarre ( but in the fortunes apprehensible ) compulsion with regard for bodily tissue. [ 32 ]

He points to the incompatibilities in the fact that during our life we dispose of human blood and tissue every twenty-four hours, through soiled lavatory paper, soiled patchs and infirmary sharps. Furthermore during station mortem the contents of the intestine are removed to let for the review of the enteric liner. This stuff contains far more cells and tissue fragments than the tissue slides that have been the topic of much deliberation.

He suggests this incompatibility can be understood due to the over concentration on the Alder Hey and Bristol instances, and suggests that pulling rules and guidelines to regulate out attitudes to the aggregation and keeping of variety meats from these instances is misplaced.

Furthermore he points to the fact that no organic structure remains integral, the organic structure will disintegrate, and there is no option between burial integral and decomposition. Therefore the expostulations that some actions violate the physical unity of the cadaver are he believes, irrational. Additionally, he points to the doubt of the tribunals and the province giving judicial support to such unreason, particularly if they do so to the want of others who may hold benefited from a life salvaging therapy.

However, this point of position is clearly at odds with those whose spiritual beliefs

dictate that burial or cremation should be with the whole organic structure integral. Hebraism, Islam and a figure of Christian traditions all call for the entombment of an integral organic structure.

Orthodox Judaism requires any limbs amputated throughout a person’s life to be stored and so buried with individual at decease. If an necropsy has taken topographic point so all the fluids, and bloodied fabrics must be buried with them.

It is suggested by Margaret Brazier [ 33 ] that actions which prevent the entombment or cremation of the integral organic structure may go against Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights. This states that:

( 1 ) Everyone has the right to freedom of idea, scruples and faith ; this right includes freedom to alter his faith or belief and freedom, either entirely or in community with others and in public or private, to attest his faith or belief, in worship, instruction, pattern and observation.

( 2 ) Freedom to attest one ‘s faith or beliefs shall be capable merely to such restrictions as are prescribed by jurisprudence and are necessary in a democratic society in the involvements of public safety, for the protection of public order, wellness or ethical motives, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

In many religions there are observations in relation to the dead organic structure that are cardinal to spiritual pattern. The fact that there are restrictions to this right suggests that public wellness, and the rights of others to profit from maintained variety meats could restrict their claim.

However I would propose that disregarding and overruling spiritual strong belief in a society that is every bit diverse as the UK is a misguided one, particularly if regard is to be cardinal to medical moralss.


Anyone who has a responsibility to bury the deceased has the right to possess the organic structure in order to bury it. This responsibility will fall upon the decision maker or executor of the deceased’s estate. If there is no executor, it is arguable that the individual foremost entitled to a grant of disposal of the estate ( normally the partner, nighest comparative or following of family or the parents. ) should be allowed ownership of the organic structure in order to find how to dispose of it.

It is clear that organic structures need to be disposed so there is no personal or public wellness hazard ; to guarantee that public decency is non outraged, and to fulfill the involvements of the bereaved in footings of bereavement and other rites associated with the decease of a loved one.

John Harris argues that it is the public decency and public wellness facets that are the most of import, indicating to the fact that a medical examiner can order a station mortem whether or non the household consent. [ 34 ]

However how far should the involvements of relations and friends be taken into history refering the issue of organ remotion and keeping?

It is good established in medical moralss that the life patient must give consent to medical processs, and merely in utmost fortunes can this be overruled. [ 35 ]

Professor Harris argues that one time a individual has died it is arguable that they have no longer have moral rights or involvements, as they can non be harmed or benefited. He suggests a figure of scenarios where the involvement of the relations may go occupied:

  1. If the variety meats or tissue were to be used for an immoral intent, or the procedure of remotion was immoral or indecent.
  2. If the relations are adversely affected by keeping of the tissue e.g. concerns about familial privateness.
  3. Religious or cultural beliefs about the disposal of the dead

However he suggests that these legitimate concerns need to burden up against the viing concerns of other households, as they may go needlessly bereaved for privation of donor variety meats.

This struggle of involvement so can merely be solved by make up one’s minding whose involvements carry the most moral weight. He suggests that it could be decided that the values that protect an involvement in life, might be seen as more valuable than those that turn on whether something is suiting or non.

Furthermore he goes on to propose that if we accept the good and selfless intents of organ remotion and keeping, so it is non in the deceased’s involvement to thwart this procedure and do other peoples deceases more likely. In fact T if there are givens to be made about what the asleep wanted, so it is sensible to say he would hold wanted his variety meats used for the benefit of others, and that constrain should run on the givens of friends and relations every bit good as on the tribunals.

However the deductions of this theory have been criticised. Margaret Brazier points to the trouble in make up one’s minding whose demands trump the relations. It is easy to see how the demands of a deceasing bosom patient may trump the relations involvements. However what happens where the organ is merely wanted for a clinical survey that is considered irrelevant by the remainder of the medical community, and who would make up one’s mind whose involvements were the most urgent, as it is hard to see how it could merely be left to the medical profession.

Additionally, how could we specify the ‘immoral remotion of organs’ ? It could easy be argued by the households affected in the Alder Hey and Bristol dirts that the remotion of variety meats via fraudulence, coercion and use amounted to an immoral or indecorous procedure.

Human Tissue Act 2004

The Bristol Royal infirmary, Alder Hey infirmary, and The Final Report of the Independent reappraisal Group on Retention of Organs at Post Mortem ( the Mclean study ) in Scotland all urged reform of the Human Tissue Act 1961.

Initially the government’s purpose was to publish a two clause Bill to necessitate consent from those with parental duty for the keeping and usage of organ and tissue from kids, and to present punishments for non-compliance. However it became clear that this would non reply many of the quandary posed in the studies, and a thorough inspection and repair of the jurisprudence in this country was deemed necessary.

The common subject originating from the studies was that ‘informed consent’ instead than ‘absence of objection’ should be the guiding legal rule to warrant organ and tissue remotion and keeping.

As Gage J stated in AB V Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust:

“There may be small conceptual difference between consent and non expostulation, but the latter in my position implies a more inactive attack than a demand for consent” [ 36 ]

Part 1 Schedule 1 of the Act sets out the intents for which appropriate consent will be required for the remotion, storage and usage of tissue from asleep individuals. In subdivisions 2 and 3 it sets out what is meant by ‘appropriate consent’

The impression of consent has been described as the ‘golden thread’ that constitutes the consolidative subject of the statute law. However it seems to be a retreat off from the ‘explicit consent’ that the Inquiry studies foremost advanced. Basically it leaves the issue of consent to the Human Tissue Authority’s Codes of Practice who states that:

“For consent to be given it must be given voluntarily by an suitably informed individual who has the capacity to hold to the activity in inquiry. Seeking consent is a procedure which involves hearing, discussing, and oppugning so as to get at a shared apprehension – a signed signifier is non needfully an indicant that such an

apprehension has been reached” [ 37 ]

It so goes on to province that if consent to be valid it must be given

voluntarily, by an suitably informed individual who has the capacity to hold to

the activity in inquiry. If these elements have non been satisfied, a signature on

a signifier will non do the consent valid.

The Act requires that consent must be in composing for anatomical scrutiny and

public show, but non for other scheduled intents. However, it is suggested that it is good pattern to obtain written consent for important processs such as station mortem or organ contribution.

The individual who gives consent must be a nominative representative of the deceased. If one was non appointed, so consent falls to a individual in a modification relationship with the deceased before decease.

Qualifying relationships are ranked in subdivision 27 ( 4 ) of the Human Tissue Act 2004, in falling order.

( a ) partner or spouse ;

( B ) parent or kid ;

( degree Celsius ) brother or sister ;

( vitamin D ) grandparent or grandchild ;

( vitamin E ) kid of a individual falling within paragraph ©

( degree Fahrenheit ) stepfather or stepmother ;

( g ) stepbrother or half sister ;

( H ) friend of longstanding.

Consent should so be obtained from the individual with the highest ranking. However where the individual does non wish to, or is unable to cover with the issue of consent, or it is non moderately operable to pass on with him within the clip available ( if consent in relation to the activity is to be acted on ) so lower rankings will do.

This helps to voyage around the lodging point in the old s statute law where it wasn’t certain if “such sensible questions as may be practicable” would take into history the clip frame in which could be made if variety meats were traveling to be feasible for organ transplant.

The superior strategy has been justified by the authorities on the footing that acquiring the consent from all parties, or a bulk would be impracticable

In theory this is a pronounced contrast to the 1961 Act where the expostulation of any lasting relation could blackball the remotion and keeping of tissue.

Section 5 makes it an offense for the storer and user of tissue to make a scheduled activity without the ‘appropriate consent’ If the tissue user was found guilty of this offense, strong belief could take to a term of imprisonment for up to 3 old ages, and this was criticised by some research workers.

In an article in Biolines Dr Alison Stewart of the Cambridge Genetics Park [ 38 ] argued that there could be a instance where a research worker utilizing tissue or cellular stuff from deceased giver could happen themselves being prosecuted if consent was missing or unequal, even if a 3rd party had been responsible for obtaining consent.

This was changed during the concluding transition of the act through parliament, so an end-user of stuff has a defense mechanism to condemnable liability if he or she has a sensible belief that they are transporting out the activity with the appropriate consent.


The Human Tissue Act came into force on Friday September 1st2006 and it is hoped that it will assist clear up the legal place of sawboness with patients waiting for organ grafts, diagnosticians desiring to transport out research utilizing human tissue, and the legal place as respects relations and friends of the deceased.

It is arguable that there are obvious advantages to the new Act. First if an grownup places his name on the Organ Donor Register, his wants, when he dies, can non be overridden by his relations. This is an of import point, associating to the liberty of the person and his picks in life, and what remains after his decease.

However I would reason that the new jurisprudence does non travel far plenty. For illustration graft sawboness are still obliged to confer with the relations before utilizing the variety meats, and so they must make up one’s mind if their expostulations are so serious that the graft should non continue. It is difficult to see a instance where person who is in mourning would listen excessively, and act in a rational mode, when the sawbones explains the instance for organ transplant. If a individual has decided, against the wants of the asleep, I imagine it will be really hard to alter their head.

Furthermore because the Act has kept informed consent at its bosom, it has shifted the balance for determination doing farther into the custodies of relations. Most people do non show an sentiment in relation to how their bodily parts are to be used after their decease and a UK Transplant possible giver audit showed that 40 per cent of relations refuse to accept to organ contribution, compared to 30 per cent in the 1980’s. [ 39 ] If these tendencies have been followed since so we could be looking at farther organ deficits in the hereafter.

I believe that in this country a jurisprudence framed around ‘presumed consent” with an opt out registry would hold been inherently more utile. Such a system was put in topographic point in France, with a good thought out substructure and a proper educational run, and was extremely successful.

It is clear from the Act that the authorities has good and genuinely nailed its colors to the mast of informed consent, and it is easy to see why. One of the major objects of the measure was to the Restoration of public trust, balanced against the public involvement of maintaining a supply of human variety meats and tissue available to the medical research universe.

After the Alder Hey and Bristol Royal Infirmary dirts it was felt by many that paternalistic led medical specialty was lead oning and patronizing patients and their households. It is really clear that the physicians involved acted scandalously and without idea for the parents and households involved. I would reason that the Act goes a long manner to reconstructing public trust, as consent must be actively sought by the medical profession, who in bend must inform the relations what will go on to the variety meats and tissue.

If I had been a parent whose kid has been treated as through its organic structure was the belongings of the infirmary I would hold been justly angry at non being consulted, and this Act can decidedly be seen in the spirit of patient centred pattern.

However the fact that the alterations in statute law were directed ab initio by the studies made at Alder hey and Bristol suggests that the model may hold been set unsuitably. This is non to sabotage the importance of the relative’s involvements, but to indicate out how of import an issue such as organ keeping is. The households involved in the dirts deserve both our understanding and our regard, nevertheless they are non the lone bereft people in the universe, every one of us will one twenty-four hours endure irreparable loss.

There is no uncertainty that archived tissue, and variety meats are a really of import tool for research, and the medical universe were justly worried that of import research utilizing human tissue was earnestly threatened by the first drafting’s of the Human Tissue Act, which the authorities so recognised and punctually changed. However I still feel that the Act is balanced excessively far in favor of the relations of the deceased. There are powerful moral grounds for the keeping of variety meats and tissue following decease, and I believe these are non embraced by this Act.

Furthermore the Act remains soundless on the topic of belongings rights, preferring to ground itself around the inquiry of consent. Although there are those who argue that philosophically, it is grounded in belongings rights and involvements, that it chooses non to admit. [ 40 ]

Consent is I believe far more preferred to muster, as Margaret Brazier put it “Compulsory selflessness is an oxymoron” [ 41 ] Keeping consent cardinal to the statute law pays respect to the impression of liberty and the profoundly held spiritual and cultural beliefs that many people have, and that should non be ridden roughshod over.

However I believe it would be possible to admit and esteem the rights protected in the Human Rights Act 1998 and to make this within the model of ‘presumed consent’


Beauchamp T L, Childress J F. “Principles of Biomedical Ethics” 5th edn.Oxford University Press, 2001, pp 454.

Brazier, M ‘Retained Organs: Ethical motives and Humanity ‘ ( 2002 ) 22 LS 50

Laurie, G & A ; K. Mason, ‘Consent or Property? Covering with the Body and its Partss

in the Shadow of Bristol and Alder Hey ‘ ( 2001 ) 64 M.L.R

Grubb, A “ I, Me, Mine ” : Bodies, Partss and Property ( 1998 ) 3 Med Law Int 299

Harris, J ‘Law and Regulation of Retained Variety meats: Some Ethical Considerations ‘

( 2002 ) L.S. 527

Hope, T and Hendrick, J “Medical Ethics and Law: The Core Curriculum” Churchill Livingstone ( 31 Jan 2003 )

Kant, Immanuel ; translated by James W. Ellington [ 1785 ] ( 1993 ) . “Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals” 3rd ed.. Hackett pg 36

Laurie, G & A ; K. Mason, ‘Consent or Property? Covering with the Body and its Partss

in the Shadow of Bristol and Alder Hey ‘ ( 2001 ) 64 M.L.R

Liddell, K & A ; A. Hall, ‘Beyond Bristol and Alder Hey: The Future Regulation of

Human Tissue ‘ ( 2005 ) 13 Med.L.Rev. 170

Mason & A ; Mcall Smith’s “Law and Medical Ethics” ( 2006 ) OUP

Morgan, D ‘Where Do I Own My Body? and Why? ‘ in D. Morgan, Issues in Medical

Law and Ethical motives ( 2001, Cavendish, London ) .

N. Naffine, ‘The Legal Structure of Self Ownership: Or the Self Possessed Man

and the Women Possessed ‘ ( 1998 ) 25 JLS 193

Monetary value, D, ‘From Cosmos and Damian to Van Velzen: The Human Tissue Saga

( 2003 ) 11 Med. L Rev 1

Monetary value, D ‘The Human Tissue Act 2004 ‘ ( 2005 ) 68 MLR 798

Skene, L ‘Proprietary Rights in Human Bodies, Body Parts and Tissue:

Regulatory Context and Proposals for New Laws ‘ ( 2002 ) 22 L.S. 102


“Learning from Bristol – The study of the Public Inquiry into childrens bosom surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary 1984 – 95 ( CM5207 ( 1 ) ,2001 ) .

Bristol Inquiry Interim Report “Removal and Retention of Human material” ( 2000 )

The Royal Liverpool Childrens Inquiry Report ( Redfern Report ) 2001 London, The Stationary Office

Retained Organs Commission – “A audience document” London: Department of Health ( 2002 )

Nuffield Council on bioethics, “Human Tissue: Ethical and legal Issues” April 1995

B.M.A Organ contribution in the twenty-first Century. Time for a amalgamate attack, 2004

Codified list

Human Tissue Act 2004

Human Right Act 1998

Coroners Rules Amendment Act 2005


Bosely, Sarah “Arrogance of physicians led to organ scandal” The Guardian, May 11 ( 2000 )


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *