Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs

Our role in living donation

The Human Tissue Authority regulates living organ donation and transplantation across the UK. 

The Human Tissue Act 2004 (HT Act) provides a legal framework for living organ donation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, the framework is provided by the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006.

It is a criminal offence to carry out a transplant operation between two living people if the conditions of the HT Act are not met. This means valid consent must have been given. It is also an offence to be involved in the buying or selling of human organs. The penalty for these offences is a prison sentence of up to three years, a fine, or both.

The HTA regulates the donation of organs in the UK from living people by making the decision on whether the donation can go ahead, based on criteria set out in law.

The HTA’s role is to provide an independent check to help protect the interests of living organ donors. They ensure each individual donor has an opportunity to speak freely to someone not connected with the transplant unit in order to confirm that:

•    the donor has the capacity to make an informed decision;
•    there has been no reward sought or offered for the organ donation;
•    their wish to donate is free from any pressure to act against their will;
•    they understand the nature of the procedure and risks of the surgery. 

This will be carried out by an Independent Assessor (IA), who is trained and accredited by HTA. IAs undertake interviews with donors and recipients to explore whether the conditions set out above have been met. IAs do not determine the medical suitability of the donor or recipient.

The HTA uses the report of the IA, and any other information gathered as part of its consideration of the case, to make the decision on whether or not to approve the proposed donation.

HTA leaflets – Our role in living organ donation

  1. Our role in living donation (English)
  2. Our role in living donation (Welsh)
  3. Our role in living donation (Urdu)
  4. Our role in living donation (Punjabi)
  5. Our role in living donation (Polish)
  6. Our role in living donation (Hindi)
  7. Our role in living donation (Gujarati.)
  8. Our role in living donation (Greek)
  9. Our role in living donation (Bengali)
  10. Our role in living donation (Arabic)


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Last updated on: 4 Jan 2021