The Law Society Library on the topic of leaving human remains for medical research.

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Donation of human remains for medical research

The Human Tissue Act 2004, s.1 sets out the ‘scheduled purposes’ for what human remains can be used for with the appropriate consent of the donor. A consent form from the donor must be written and witnessed before death (this can include leaving consent in a will), as their body cannot be donated by someone else after death has occurred.

In order for medical schools to accept donated bodies for dissection, the term ‘anatomical examination’ should be included in the consent form (or the will). The commonly used term ‘medical research’ is not generally considered specific enough, as it does not appear anywhere in the Human Tissue Act 2004.

Further information about donations and model consent forms are available on the Human Tissue Authority website. This includes a consent form signed by a representative if the donor is unable to sign themselves.

Record last checked 22 August 2015.


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This FAQ is compiled by the Law Society Library. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.