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Dáil passes bill to regulate use of human tissue

09 Nov 2023 / legislation Print

Dáil passes bill to regulate use of human tissue

A bill that regulates the use of human tissue in Ireland has been passed by the Dáil (8 November).

The Human Tissue (Transplantation, Post-Mortem, Anatomical Examination and Public Display) Bill 2022 will now go to the Seanad.

The bill sets out the legal framework for the donation of organs for transplantation, the carrying out of post-mortem examinations, the use of bodies and body parts for anatomical examination and education, and the public display of bodies and body parts.

The Department of Health said that the measures would embed in law the idea that consent, where appropriate, was the defining principle across what it described as “these sensitive areas”.


Welcoming the bill’s passing, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that its continued progress was important for healthcare in Ireland.

“This will not only protect the rights and dignity of individuals and their families but also support medical research and education," he stated.

The bill introduces a ‘soft opt-out’ system of consent for organ donation, under which consent will be deemed unless the person has, while alive, registered a wish not to become an organ donor after death. This is a change from the current system where decisions on organ donation are the responsibility of the next-of-kin.

During an Oireachtas debate on 24 January 2023, during the second reading of the bill, Minister Donnelly said: “Those who object to organ donation, for whatever reason, will be able to record their objection on a new register that will be established under the legislation.

"In such cases, their wishes will be respected and their family will not be approached on the issue of organ donation. It will be possible for individuals to remove their names from the register at any time.”


There are also new consent provisions for non-coronial post-mortems, while the bill also amends the Coroner’s Acts 1962-2020 to introduce additional provisions for communication and information sharing with families in cases where a coronial post-mortem is required.

The bill further provides for regulation of the retention, storage, use, disposal and return of organs and tissue from deceased persons following all post-mortems in hospital settings.

The new legislation would also introduce a requirement for a licence to display bodies publicly after death. There is currently no legislation governing this area, meaning that the State has no powers to investigate the provenance of bodies on public display and to intervene if required.

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