Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs

Disposal of anatomical specimens, former anatomical specimens and body parts

Disposal of relevant material is one of the statutory activities within the remit of the Human Tissue Authority (HTA). However, the Human Tissue Act 2004 (HT Act) does not mandate any particular method of disposal according to the type or size of the relevant material. Further, it does not specify how to dispose of imported relevant material.

The HTA does not stipulate methods of disposal for specific body parts and encourages staff at HTA-licensed establishments to make decisions about the most suitable method of disposal in each case.

In cases where cremation is not possible, it is permissible to dispose of anatomical specimens, former anatomical specimens and body parts, whether imported or not, by incineration, providing they are disposed of separately from other clinical waste.

Generally, anatomical specimens, former anatomical specimens and body parts will be incinerated by a local incineration facility. It is good practice for staff at HTA-licensed establishments to agree the acceptance criteria for relevant material with their local incineration facility as part of any disposal agreements.

It may be that staff at HTA-licensed establishments are required to reduce the size of relevant material prior to it being sent for disposal by incineration. We expect staff at HTA-licensed establishments to develop relevant standard operating procedures (SOPs) supporting the process for preparing, documenting and transporting specimens and body parts for incineration.

Imported material should be disposed of in accordance with the consent given by the donor. We expect Designated Individuals (DIs) to scrutinise any agreements with suppliers of imported material to ensure that they are acting lawfully and in accordance with any consent given by the donor. If an agreement stipulates cremation as the only method of disposal, and only incineration will be possible, we advise that the DI should first clarify with the supplier whether the meaning of the word cremation in the agreement is consistent with the definition of cremation in the UK. If so, the DI should not accept the relevant material as the wishes of the deceased could not be met.

In addition to material used in the course of anatomical examination, this position statement covers relevant material that has been donated for education and training for human health; for example, surgical training.

Frequently asked questions about disposal of anatomical specimens, former anatomical specimens and body parts can be found here

Revised December 2013
 

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