Increased public support’ for use of human tissue

News — By on May 3, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Public support for the use of human tissue in research has risen over the past decade, say researchers at Sheffield, UK. They found that 96% patients were happy for their tissue to be used in research, up from 89% in 1996.

This is despite the adverse publicity surrounding tissue removed from children at post-mortem examinations, and stored without parental consent.

The furore in the UK led to the implementation of the Human Tissue Act in 2004, which requires specific consent for the use of human tissue, except that taken during surgery and stored.

In 1996, the researchers questioned patients recovering from operations about their views on the use and ownership of tissue removed during surgery. This time patients undergoing surgery over a period of 11 weeks in 2005 were asked to take part. In all, 203 completed questionnaires.

Patients were happy for their tissue to be used in research, and for teaching medical students. They found that an overwhelming majority of patients wanted residual tissue from their operations to be used in biomedical research and medical education.

The researchers caution, though that consent from the vast majority of patients “should not affect the rights of the few who would not, and appropriate systems need to be designed to accommodate this.”

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