Who are the HTA?

The HTA is a regulator set up in 2005 following events in the 1990s that revealed a culture in hospitals of removing and retaining human organs and tissue without consent. The legislation that established us not only addressed this issue but also updated and brought together other laws that relate to human tissue and organs.

The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) were created by Parliament as a non-departmental public body (otherwise known as an "arms'-length body") of the Department of Health and Social Care, and are overseen by an Authority of lay and professional members appointed by the Government.

We regulate organisations that remove, store and use human tissue for research, medical treatment, post-mortem examination, education and training, and display in public. We also give approval for organ and bone marrow donations from living people.

The interests of the public and those we regulate are central to our work. We build on the confidence people have in our regulation by ensuring that human tissue and organs are used safely and ethically, and with proper consent. There are many different types of human cells and tissue, including skin, body parts, organs, and bone.

Bodies, organs, tissue and cells can be used for many purposes including:

  • Treating patients with particular medical conditions.
  • Transplanting into people whose organs have failed.
  • Treating patients who have blood disorders like leukaemia with stem cells.
  • Researching causes and treatments for illnesses, such as cancer or diseases of the brain and nervous system.
  • Teaching students about the human body and training to develop the skills of surgeons.
  • Display in public, such as exhibitions and museums.
  • Finding out through post-mortem examination why someone has died, including examining their organs and tissue samples to determine the cause of death.

We believe that patients and families will have more confidence that their wishes will be respected, that organs and tissue used in treatment will be safe and high quality; and that tissue used for research or other purposes will be put to the best possible use, if they know there is regulation of human tissue and organs.

By fostering an environment of trust, we hope more people will be willing to donate their tissue for scientific and medical research, their organs for transplants, and their bodies for medical education and training. On that basis, we can help healthcare to flourish.