New Tissue Donation Process in Victoria

This article applies to health services.

Human Tissue Amendment Bill 2020 (Vic)

Please be advised that the Human Tissue Amendment Bill 2020 (Vic) (the Bill) passed its third reading in the Victorian Parliament on 26 November 2020 and is currently awaiting Royal Assent. The Bill will amend the Human Tissue Act 1982 (Vic) (the Act) to include a process for the authorisation of ante-mortem procedures in relation to tissue donation.

Ante-mortem procedures for donations of tissue after death

Under section 24A of the Bill, an ante-mortem procedure is a medical procedure carried out to determine, maintain or improve the viability of tissue. Specific examples of ante-mortem procedures are:

  • the taking of blood for serology testing and tissue typing to confirm there are no contraindications preventing organ suitability (e.g. presence of malignant melanoma or active human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection);
  • administration of antibiotics;
  • administration of medication to control blood pressure;
  • administration of anticoagulant medication (such as heparin);
  • undertaking a bronchoscopy (an internal investigation of the lungs by means of an optical instrument);
  • cannulation of femoral vessels, to facilitate infusion of preservation solutions once death has occurred.

Under section 24B of the Bill, a designated officer of the hospital may authorise the carrying out of ante-mortem procedures in respect of a person either for the transplantation of the person’s tissue after their death to the body of a living person, or for the use of that person’s tissue after their death for other therapeutic, medical or scientific purposes. Before the designated officer for a hospital gives an authority, the medical treatment decision maker in respect of that person must consent to the carrying out of ante-mortem procedures under section 24C of the Bill, unless the circumstances set out in section 24E of the Bill apply (see below).

Medical treatment decision maker may consent to ante-mortem procedures

Under section 24C of the Bill, the medical treatment decision maker of a person may consent to ante-mortem procedures being carried out in respect of that person for the purposes of the transplantation of the tissue after death to the body of a living person or for the use of therapeutic, medical or scientific purposes.

Medical treatment decision maker has the same meaning as in the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 (Vic).

Circumstances under which authority may be given

Section 24D of the Bill specifies that a designated officer for a hospital must not give an authority under section 24B of the Bill in respect of a person, unless the person’s respiration or the circulation of their blood is being maintained by artificial means and two registered medical practitioners with more than 5 years’ experience, who are not the designated officer, have certified in writing that they have conducted an examination of the person and formed the opinion that the person’s death would occur as a result of withdrawing the artificial respiration or the circulation of their blood.

Further conditions of authority

Pursuant to section 24E of the Bill, a designated officer for a hospital may give an authority under section 24B of the Bill where the designated officer after making reasonable inquiries, is unable to ascertain the person’s medical treatment decision maker’s existence or whereabouts and has no reason to believe that the person has expressed an objection to the carrying out of ante-mortem procedures for the purposes of the transplantation of their tissue after death to the body of a living person or for the use of their tissue after death for other therapeutic, medical or scientific purposes.

Effect of an authority or a consent

Under section 24F of the Bill, an authority under section 24B is sufficient authority for the carrying out of ante-mortem procedures for the purposes of tissue donation after death. This means that in accordance with section 43 of Act, a person carrying out a procedure in reliance on such an authority is not liable to any other person in respect of anything done or omitted to be done (other than in negligence) in the carrying out of that procedure.

Please click here to access the full Bill.


Contact

For further information please contact the Law Compliance team:

Phone: 1300 862 667

Email: info@lawcompliance.com.au

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