A Reform Proposal for the Human Tissue Act (2004): Making it more ?appropriate' for Organ Donation in 2020

AuthorEmmanuel Okenyi
PositionUniversity of Southampton
[2016] Southampton Student Law Review Vol.6!
A Reform Proposal for the Human Tissue Act (2004):
Making it more ‘appropriate’ for Organ Donation in
Emmanuel Okenyi
University of Southampton
.1 Organ donation for transplantation is a contentious topic in the global health
care landscape. The UK has been a key player in leading technological
advancement in transplant medicine; with the first successful heart transplant
using a non-beating heart in Europe being performed here, this year.1 However, the
UK still has one of the lowest organ donation rates among developed nations.2 There
has been a steadfast tradition of consent, in which cadaveric, as well as living organ
donations can only be made following confirmation of donor permission. At present,
individuals become organ donors through joining the NHS Organ Donor Register
(ODR), a form of ‘opting-in’ policy.
1.2 Despite this admirable moral stance on organ donation, there remains a
significant issue at the heart of this area - organ demand for transplantation far
outstrips organ supply. In response to this, in 2006, the government at the time set
up the Organ Donation Taskforce (ODT) whose role it was to identify areas for
improvement with a view to increasing organ donation rates. Recommendations
from their first report, published in 2008, were centred on infrastructural and
organisational improvements in donor identification and referral following death,
and communication with those closest to potential donors.3 Following this report,
1 Ian Sample, ‘Success for first non-beating heart transplant in Europe’ The Guardian (London, 26
March 2015)
europe> accessed 1 April 2015
2 ‘Deceased Donation’ (Organ Donation and Transplantation)
www.odt.nhs.uk/donation/deceased-donation/> accessed 1 April 2015.
3 Department of Health, ‘Organs for Transplant: A Report from the UK Organ Donation Taskforce’ (16
January 2008)

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