Can I Donate my Body for Medical Science?
27 August 2019 by Jane Golding
Recently I have been asked when taking instructions concerning the drafting of a Will, whether people can donate their bodies for Medical Science upon death? If so, what someone would need to do for this to be implemented? Some clients require this to form part of their instructions within a Will and which the Executor(s) should act upon following the death.
From spring 2020 the Law around Organ Donation in England is changing. All Adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an Organ and Tissue Donor when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are one of the excluded groups. This is commonly referred to as an “opt out” system. Until then, if you die in circumstances where you may be able to donate, Specialists and Medical Staff will continue to check the NHS Organ Donor Register to see if you have recorded a decision to be a donor.
Organ and Tissue donation is giving your organs and/or tissues to help save or improve the lives of others when you die. Research by the NHS suggests that one Organ Donor can save or transform the lives of up to nine people. The law is changing because around three people die each day across the UK in need of an organ, because there are not enough organs available for transplant. Only 1% of people die in circumstances that would allow them to donate. Most people would support organ donation and would be willing to donate their organs after their death. Unfortunately, many people to do not make this decision clear either by signing on to the NHS Organ Donor Register or telling their family.
Once the Law has changed it will be considered that you agree to be an Organ Donor if you are over 18 and you have not “opted out” and you are not in an excluded group. The new Law will apply to Adults in England, who also died in England. It will not apply to people who are under 18, people who lack mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action, people who have lived in England for less than 12 months before their death and people who are not living here voluntarily.
By studying human tissue / bodies, Scientists improve their understanding of how diseases start and progress and what keeps us healthy. Donating your body, brain or tissue to a medical school or research establishment is a valuable gift. Your donation will become an important resource for training Healthcare Professionals or for Research, and such donations are highly valued by staff and students alike.
There are various reasons why Medical Schools may decline the offer of a donation; they would be able to provide you with more information about this when you contact them. For example: certain medical conditions may lead to the offer being declined. If a Post-Mortem is needed, this may also mean that a medical school declines the offer of body donation. Medical Schools may not be able to accept donated bodies during holiday periods such as Christmas. Donors should ensure that they have alternative funeral plans, should their body donation not be accepted.
If Fisher Jones Greenwood can assist you in drafting your Will, to reflect your wishes upon death, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 01206 700113 or email [email protected].