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The Human Tissue Act 2004

The Human Tissue Act 2004 replaced the Human Tissue Act 1961, the Anatomy Act 1984 and the Human Organ Transplants Act 1989 as they relate to England and Wales, and the corresponding Orders in Northern Ireland.

The Human Tissue Act 2004 covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It established the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) to regulate activities concerning the removal, storage, use and disposal of human tissue. Consent is the fundamental principle of the legislation and underpins the lawful removal, storage and use of body parts, organs and tissue. This includes removal of organs and tissue from the deceased for transplantation or other purposes. Different consent requirements apply when dealing with tissue from the deceased and the living. The Human Tissue Act 2004 (HT Act) lists the purposes for which consent is required (these are called Scheduled Purposes).


The HT Act includes provisions for codes of practice to be made by the HTA on a number of issues. The codes are intended to form part of the regulatory system under the HT Act. Their purpose is to provide guidance to those who carrying out activities within the HTA’s remit and to detail the standards expected in the carrying out of such activities. The codes provide detailed advice on the subjects that they cover and include an explanation of requirements under the HT Act and the Regulations.

The HTA's published revised codes of practice in September 2009.

The codes of practice provide guidance and detail expected standards for each of the areas which the HTA regulate. The codes are designed to support professionals by giving advice and guidance based on real-life experience.

The HTA have written codes of practice covering the following areas:

  • Consent
  • Donation of solid organs for transplantation
  • Post-mortem examination
  • Anatomical examination
  • Disposal of human tissue
  • Donation of allogenic bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cells for transplantation
  • Public Display
  • Import and export of human bodies, body parts and tissue
  • Research

Further information on the HTA codes of practice can be found on the link below.



The Human Tissue Authority has issued responses to frequently asked questioned. Please follow this link: