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Chapter 15:01

Anatomical Donations And Post-Mortem Examinations Act

Act 33/1976, 22/2001 (s. 4); R.G.N. 889/1978.

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

Section

  1. Short title.
  2. Donation by person of his body or part thereof for certain purposes after his death and consent to postmortem examination.
  3. Donation of body of deceased person or part thereof or consent to post-mortem examination by relative or Government medical officer.
  4. Persons to whom and purposes for which donation may be made.
  5. Provisions relating to donations in terms of section 3 or 4.
  6. Donation presumed if identity tag worn by deceased.
  7. Authority for use of body or part thereof.
  8. Removal of tissue from body of deceased person.
  9. Post-mortem examination of body.
  10. Removal of tissue at post-mortem examination.
  11. Removal of replaceable tissue from bodies of living persons.
  12. Removal of tissue, other than replaceable tissue, from bodies of living persons.
  13. Acquisition, preservation, use and issue of tissue by authorized institutions.
  14. Rights concerning tissue.
  15. Exclusion of civil and criminal liability in respect of bona fide act of medical practitioner, dental practitioner or magistrate.
  16. Sale of tissue for scientific purposes or therapeutic purposes prohibited.
  17. Publication of identity of donor or recipient of body or tissue prohibited.
  18. Offences and penalties.

AN ACT to provide for the donation of human bodies and human tissue for scientific purposes or therapeutic purposes; to provide for the removal, preservation and use of such tissue; to provide for the giving of consent to post-mortem examinations for certain purposes; and to provide for matters incidental to or connected with the foregoing.

[Date of commencement: 1st July, 1978.]

1    Short title

This Act may be cited as the Anatomical Donations and Post-mortem Examinations Act [Chapter 15:01].

                       2    Interpretation

(1) In this Act—

“authorized institution” means an institution authorized by the Minister to receive, acquire, preserve or use the bodies of deceased persons for scientific purposes or therapeutic purposes or to receive, acquire, preserve, use or issue any tissue for such purposes;

“dental practitioner” means a person registered as such in terms of the Health Professions Act [Chapter 27:19];

[Definition amended by section 151 of Act 6 of 2000]

“hospital” means any institution approved by the Minister in terms of subsection (2);

medical practitioner” means a person registered as such in terms of the Health Professions Act [Chapter 27:19];

[Definition amended by section 151 of Act 6 of 2000]

“Minister” means the Minister of Health and Child Welfare or any other Minister to whom the President may, from time to time, assign the administration of this Act;

“mortuary” means a mortuary attached to a hospital;

“relative”, in relation to any person, means— (a)         the spouse; or

  • any major child, including an adopted child; or
  • any parent or guardian; or
  • any major brother or major sister; of that person;

“replaceable tissue” means blood, skin or other tissue which is replaceable by natural processes of repair;

“scientific purposes” means—

  • any medical or dental education or research; or
  • the advancement of medical or dental science;

“Sectetary” means the Secretary of the Ministry for which the Minister is responsible;

“therapeutic purposes”, in relation to the use of tissue removed from the body of a person, means therapy of, including use in, the body of any other living person;

“tissue” means any human tissue, including any flesh, organ, bone, body fluid or tissue or derivative thereof.

(2) The Minister may, for the purposes of the definition of “hospital”, approve any Government or other in-

stitution

3       Donation by person of his body or part thereof for certain purposes after his death and consent to post-mortem examination

(1) Subject to this Act, any person who is competent to make a will may— (a) in his will; or

  • in any document attested by two competent witnesses; or
  • orally in the presence of two competent witnesses; donate his body or any part thereof to a person specified in section five for use after his death for the purposes specified in that section or consent to a post-mortem examination of his body for the purposes specified in section ten.

(2) Any donation made or consent given in terms of subsection (1) may be revoked prior to his death by the person who made it—

  • in any of the ways referred to in subsection (1) in which a donation may be made or consent may be given, whether it was made or given, as the case may be, in that way or not; and
  • in the case of a donation or consent made or given in a way referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (1), by destruction of the will or document, as the case may be, with the intention of revoking the donation.

(3) In this section—

“competent witness” means a person of or over the age of eighteen years.

4       Donation of body of deceased person or part thereof or consent to post-mortem examination by relative or Government medical officer

Subject to this Act, where there is no donation in terms of section three by a person—

  • any relative of that person may, if he has no reason to believe that there is any contrary indication by that person—
    • donate, either orally or in writing, the body or any part thereof of that person after his death to a person specified in section five for the purposes specified in that section; or
    • consent, either orally or in writing, to a post-mortem examination of the body of that person after his death for the purposes specified in section ten;
  • a Government medical officer may, after that person’s death, if after such reasonable inquiry as may be practicable having regard to the exigencies of the circumstances he has no reason to believe that there is any contrary indication by that person or any of his relatives—
    • donate the body of that person or any part thereof to a person specified in section five for the purposes specified in that section; or
    • consent to a post-mortem examination of the body for the purposes specified in section

                       5     Persons to whom and purposes for which donation may be made

A donation in terms of section three or four may be made— (a) to any—

  • Government hospital; or
  • medical or dental school or university engaged in medical or dental education or research; or (iii) authorized institution; or

(iv)   medical practitioner or dental practitioner; for scientific purposes or therapeutic purposes;

(b) in the case of a donation for therapeutic purposes, to any natural person for therapy of that person.

                       6     Provisions relating to donations in terms of section 3 or 4

  • Where a person has made a donation in terms of section three or four without specifying any particular donee or, where there is a specific donee, the donee is not readily available at the time and place of death or is unable for any reason to accept the donation, the nearest authorized institution shall be deemed to be the donee.
  • Where a person, in making a donation in terms of section three or four, gives conflicting directions, effect shall be given to the direction which is last made:

Provided that, where a gift of the entire body is made to one donee and a gift of specific tissue is made to another donee, the donation of the entire body shall be deemed to be a donation of the remainder of the body.

  • The donee shall have a right to the body of a deceased person which has been donated or to such part of it as has been donated only for the purpose of carrying out the wish of the person who made the donation.
  • The donee shall have twenty-four hours following the death of a person part of whose body has been donated in terms of section three or four within which he may, subject to sections eight and nine, remove or cause to be removed the tissue so donated and, after the expiry of the said period of twenty-four hours, whether or not the donee has removed such tissue or caused such tissue to be removed, the body may be claimed by the relatives of the deceased or by the person or persons otherwise entitled thereto for the purposes of the disposal thereof by way of interment or cremation of the remains or otherwise.
  • It shall not be a requirement for the lawfulness of a donation in terms of section three or four that the person who makes the donation shall specify expressly the purposes of such donation.

                       7    Donation presumed if identity tag worn by deceased

Where a person is at the time of his death wearing an identity tag issued in terms of regulations, he shall be deemed to have made a donation in terms of section three on such terms as may be prescribed

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