Consent vs Research

Medical researchers have condemned the new Human Tissues Bill as an impediment to teaching and resaerch.

But scientists say the changes go too far and will make teaching and medical research extremely difficult.

There is no discrimination between whole organs and a collection of a few cells on a microscope slide, they say.

Cancer charities and the Wellcome Trust are calling on ministers to make changes to the Bill.

Doctors have to obtain written consent if they wish to use any form of human tissue removed from a person living or dead, even if they are checking for the prevalence of a virus in the general population. Think of the consequences if tests could not have been carried out for AIDS.

There is a quandary since informed consent is surely necessary before the tissues of any individual are extracted, preserved and used for any purpose, even if it s for public health.

However, with 3,000,000 samples and 100,000,000 blood samples, this is another example of bureaucracy run wild. Moreover, public health is often used as an argument to override the concerns of an individual and, on certain occasions, they probably do so.

Philip Chaston (21.36, 8th February 2003)

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