The Human Tissue Act 2004

The Human Tissue Act 2004 replaced the Human Tissue Act 1961, the Anatomy Act 1984 and the Human Organ Transplants Act 1989 as they relate to England and Wales, and the corresponding Orders in Northern Ireland.

The Human Tissue Act 2004 covers living donation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and deceased donation in Northern Ireland. Consent for deceased donation in Wales and England is covered by the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013 in Wales, and the Deemed Consent Act (2019) in England. 

The Act established the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) to regulate activities concerning the removal, storage, use and disposal of human tissue.

Different consent requirements apply when dealing with tissue from the deceased and the living.

Access the Human Tissue Act 2004 to find out more (PDF 286KB) 

The Act includes provisions for codes of practice to be made by the HTA on a number of issues.

Their purpose is to provide practical advice and guidance to those who carry out activities within the HTA’s remit and to detail the standards expected in the carrying out of such activities.

The HTA publish codes of practice in the following areas:

  • Code A: Guiding principles and the fundamental principle of consent
  • Code B: Post-mortem examination
  • Code C: Anatomical examination
  • Code D: Public Display
  • Code E: Research
  • Code F (part one) Living organ donation
  • Code F (part two) Deceased organ and tissue donation
  • Code G: Donation of allogeneic bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cells for transplantation.


We also publish a separate Code of Practice on the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013.

Further information on the HTA codes of practice

The Human Tissue Authority responses to frequently asked questions

Law change in Wales and England

Both Wales and England have a deemed consent model for deceased organ and tissue donation.

Find out how this changes the process of consent