There are currently key laws governing organ donation and transplantation in the UK: The Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006, The Human Tissue Act 2004 (England and Northern Ireland) and the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013.

The Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 sets out that:

There are currently key laws governing organ donation and transplantation in the UK: The Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006, The Human Tissue Act 2004 (England and Northern Ireland) and the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013.

  • Any adult or child aged 12 and over, who is able to make their own decisions, can give permission for their organs or tissue to be donated
  • For those wishing to donate organs or tissue, this will be done in preference to any other requests which are made, for example leaving a body to medical science
  • A person’s own decision is the most important thing. A relative does not have the right to change this decision after the person has died
  • Children under the age of 12 cannot give permission themselves. For a child under the age of 12, only their parent or guardian can give permission

When the term "Transplant Coordinator" is used, it should be changed to Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation. There are always two Nurse Specialists on-call in Scotland at any time, and they are happy to provide advice to Healthcare Professionals. They can be contacted 25 hours a day, 7 days a week on (pager service) 07659 594979.

Wales has new organ donation legislation which came into effect on 1st December 2015 and can be accessed here 

The website for Organ Donation and Transplantation can be accessed here

At present, in order to become an organ donor, a person must express a wish to be a donor. This system is commonly known as 'opt-in'. If a person’s wishes are unknown, specially trained healthcare professionals will approach the family for their authorisation to proceed, based on their knowledge of the potential donor.

Visit the Organ Donation Scotland website

Visit the Scottish Government organ donation webpage

Visit the Scottish Government body donation webpage

Visit the Scottish Government body donation webpage for medical staff 

 

GMC guidance for doctors discussing organ donation includes:

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  • If a patient is close to death and their views cannot be determined, you should be prepared to explore with those close to them whether they had expressed any views about organ or tissue donation, if donation is likely to be a possibility
  • You should follow any national procedures for identifying potential organ donors and, in appropriate cases, for notifying the local transplant coordinator
  • You must take account of the requirements in relevant legislation and in any supporting codes of practice, during any discussions that you have with the patient or those close to them. You should make clear that any decision about whether the patient would be a suitable candidate for donation would be made by the transplant coordinator or team, and not by you and the team providing treatment.

View the GMC guidance

Body donation (e.g. anatomical or medical research)

It is important to note that the donation of the body can only be made by the individual. The expression of a wish is not sufficient and the legal paperwork must be signed by the individual during their lifetime.

This paperwork is a legal requirement and it should be communicated to next of kin that if this is not in place it will not be possible for donation to proceed.

Next of kin should be made aware that, whilst the Bequest Co-ordinator will do everything they can to ensure the wishes of the deceased are carried out, the acceptance of a donated body cannot always be guaranteed.