Skip to content
photo of a meadow and tree in spring

Donating tissue after death

Tissue donation is something that can be considered by people who want to find something positive in death or those who, for whatever reason, cannot be organ donors. Very few people are able to donate organs for transplantation owing to the circumstances of their death but many more can donate tissues for research. Only those having a diagnosis of HIV or Hepatitis are excluded from donating tissue for biomedical research.

Ethical Tissue has many tissue donations from living donors but by their very nature there are some tissues that can only be obtained after death.

Some examples of tissue that has been requested by researchers will show how essential this type of donation is:

  • Intervertebral discs
  • Lung tissue
  • Brain tissue from people who have no history of brain disease
  • Muscle and tendon
  • Tumour tissue

There are many tissues that researchers need to further their knowledge. Usually only small amounts of any one tissue is taken in the mortuary by a pathologist. Every case is individual and, where a patient has a terminal diagnosis, the choice of what to donate can be discussed. The next-of-kin gives final consent for the tissue to be removed once their loved one has passed away. So it is important that the next-of-kin is aware of their wishes.

Following written consent we arrange for the loved one to be transferred to the mortuary in Bradford where the tissues will be removed as soon as practicable. There is no charge to the family for this.  Their loved one will then be transferred back to their funeral directors by arrangement with the family. As this takes place as soon after death as possible, there are no delays to any funeral arrangements.  Your loved one can be viewed in the normal way after tissue donation has taken place.

What do I need to do now? 

You can talk to a loved one, let them know of your wishes, discuss it with your GP or care provider, nursing staff or hospital doctor, chaplain or friend. There is nothing to sign or action to take beforehand. Keep the contact details handy and then if you do decide to donate your next-of-kin can call when appropriate and we will do whatever we can to meet your wishes.  If you have any queries or would like further information please get in touch.