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Human Tissue Act – law of 2004
If you are a UK resident you need to be aware that there is the Human Tissues Act, implemented in 2004.
The Act repeals and replaces previous acts and covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It is aimed at limiting and controlling the used storage of human tissues, which of course includes DNA.
In Scotland implemented in 2006 the Scottish Human Tissue Act.
Why is important the Human Tissue Act?
If you take a sample of DNA from another person without given consent, even the smallest DNA sample, would be considered a breach of the law.
In the case, if someone takes from you a DNA sample without your consent, that person will be breaking the law.
Like any law, the Human Tissue Act (HTA) has been carefully thought through before its full implementation. It is ultimately there to protect each one of us.
How the Human Tissue Act will affect you if you order a DNA test?
In many countries outside the UK, collecting the necessary samples from any people involved poses no problems, whether the people involved are aware of their samples being taken or not
However, people purchasing the test will need to assume full responsibility for collecting those DNA samples and need to be aware of that if a person tested is a UK citizen or not.
Also, if you are in the UK you must abide by this law.
What you must do when children is under age
If you carry out your DNA test in UK and there is involved a child under age you need a legally recognized parent or guardian to sign on behalf of the child
It is obvious that a young child cannot give their explicit consent or even understand the implications of such a test, reason why is it need legal consent from a parent or guardian.
Note that the legal age of consent in the UK is 16.
If the child is over 16, then the Human Tissue Act applies and you will need to inform the child that you will need their DNA sample for a paternity test or any other DNA testing.
Any child who is above the legal age of consent has to sign a consent form agreeing to the DNA test.
What happens if you don’t comply with the law of Human Tissue Act?
If you do take anyone’s DNA sample without them being aware of it, it is considered a violation and you are liable to prosecution which can result in up to 3 years imprisonment.
Collecting DNA Samples for My Paternity Test
Collecting DNA samples is normally not a problem. As long as everyone agrees to the test, then you can proceed to gather a DNA sample from all the participants.
DNA testing companies are well aware of the Human Tissue Act and any serious company will inform you about this law. When ordering the test they will send you the collecting sample swaps as well as the consent form.
Human Tissue Act: what the father or child needs to know
The Human Tissue Act applies in cases where it is not possible to get explicit consent from all test participants for their DNA sample. To be exempt from the 2004 Act, any people from whom you take the DNA sample need the following:
- They have to be aware that their DNA sample is being taken.
- They need to know why their DNA is being used and moreover, know that results will be used for an expected purpose.
- They need to give their full consent, referred to in the Act as ‘appropriate consent’.
The Human Tissue Act is to be taken extremely seriously when carrying a DNA test, this is regulated and conditioned by it. Always ask your provider if in doubt as to what you can or cannot do.
What to do when the father does not agree
If you are want to carry out a paternity DNA test and the father is unaware of it or does not agree to the test, you will not be able to use his DNA sample.
By DNA sample we mean anywhere he may have left traces of his DNA; these can include (click here to see the full list of Forensic Samples):
- chewing gum
- a cigarette
- a used Kleenex
What to do when the father is not available
If the father has not explicitly refused the test, the law still applies. Therefore, the absence of any form of refusal does not signify consent.
If the father is deceased or anyone required for a DNA test has passed away, then the relatives will need to give their consent for samples to be taken from the body.
The Human Tissue Act means that taking a DNA sample from anyone without them knowing is an act of theft, and given the type of penalty, it is clearly considered a serious one.
Why UK created the Act of Human Tissue?
The Human Tissue Act was created for a very valid reason and although many seeking a paternity DNA test see it as a major nuisance it is a necessity as the following case exemplifies.
The scandal in question happened between 1988 and 1996 in Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool.
The hospital was considered a state-of-the-art hospital by world standards. However, a shocking scandal emerged.
The babies that died in the hospital during that period were stripped of their organs, including hearts. Some organs such as thymus glands had even been removed during heart surgery whilst the child was alive. Hundreds of foetuses were also stored at Alders.
This was not the first organ scandal in a UK public hospital although Alder’s scandal was unparalleled and described as gruesome and grotesque.
Organs from Alders were sold to pharmaceutical companies for research and in return, the hospital received substantial donations.
The situation caused uproar and multiple grievances to families who had their dead children’s organs coming back after their child had been buried. All these tissues had been taken without parent’s consent and following this scandal many others in various hospitals came to light.
Fully consult the company providing the UK paternity analysis to discuss the cost of the DNA test and options regarding the Human Tissue ACT and the extent to which these are viable.
- Know the importance of DNA testing in UK
- How much does a dna test cost?
- Buccal Swab Collection Procedure