Annex B Definition of Organs
Home Office Classification
In a document published by the Home Office prepared by the Forensic Science Regulator, Annex 1 provides guidance on the categorisation of material taken at a post-mortem held by police forces in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The guidance provides three categories of material:
1. Category 1 - Material taken at the post-mortem examination which would not generally be considered part of the body (e.g. scrapings, fingernails, hair, stomach contents).
2. Category 2 - Samples of human tissue which are not a significant part of the body (e.g. small tissue samples, blocks, slides etc).
3. Category 3 - Samples of human tissue that incorporate a significant part of the body (e.g. organs, limbs etc).
Royal College of Pathologists
The Royal College of Pathologists has produced guidelines that apply UK wide for the retention of tissues and organs following post-mortem examination. In relation to organs it states: "The body contains many organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and liver. Each organ carries out different functions. The organs are connected in the body by nerves, blood vessels and fibres".
Tissue is described as: "Organs contain tissue, collections of cells which give organs their special functions. For example, the heart contains muscle tissue composed of cells which contract to pump the blood. Samples of tissue (typically small slices about ¼ inch thick) are usually taken during a post-mortem examination for examination with a microscope; this involves treating the tissue with chemicals and embedding it in wax; this wax-embedded tissue is then kept safely and securely so that it can be re-examined later if necessary".
Human Tissue Act 2004
While there is similarly no definition of organ in the corresponding legislation that applies to England and Wales and Northern Ireland, within regulations flowing from the Act and applicable in Scotland an organ is described as meaning:
"A differentiated and vital part of the human body, formed by different tissue that maintains its structure, vascularisation and capacity to develop physiological functions with an important level of autonomy."