Educational resources about body donations

Gift from Death (BBC One)
tells the extraordinary story of how some people from Northern Ireland are donating their bodies to medical science upon their death. In this revealing and intimate film, we try to understand why people choose to do this and learn the value such a gift has for the education of our young doctors at Queens University, Belfast.

The Opt Out (BBC Radio 4)
In 2014 Polly Weston’s sister Lara died. She had just turned 22. Lara and her family had never discussed organ donation, and she wasn’t on the register. But when the family were asked if they would consider donation, they said yes. Out of the tragedy of her death, medics managed to donate her organs to four women, while her eyes saved the sight of three men.

In February a bill passed its second reading in Parliament to say that England would seek to move to an organ donation opt-out system – meaning citizens would be presumed to consent to their organs being donated unless they actively withdrew from the system. It seemed like there was universal support for the announcement. Labour were behind it. Newspapers rejoiced.

But having been through the process, Polly’s family were unsure about whether this policy change would bring about an improvement in donations.

Now she asks what does organ donation really mean to families – and will an opt out system really make a difference?

We need To Talk About Death (BBC Radio 4)
Joan Bakewell and her panel ask why so many people donate their bodies to science and what happens if you do.

Body donation: Learning from the dead
Each year hundreds of people in England sign on to body donor registers. That decision can lead to them being dissected and scrutinised by medical students and researchers long after their death but still they volunteer themselves up for the good of science. Unlike the millions who would be put off donation by the thought of being used as a training device, Graeme Ellis wanted to help others in the event of his death. At first he opted for organ donation but was told he was not a suitable candidate due to a number of health conditions. Read more

The process of donation is regulated by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA). It is based on the fundamental principle that anyone wishing to donate their body for scientific use is fully informed of the purposes and processes involved before they consent.