Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Use of human tissue for future unspecified research purposes

This is an issue which will be very carefully evaluated by ethics committees, as it carries unquantifiable but potentially high risks for the participant. Consent to the future unspecified use of a person’s tissue samples must be distinct from consent to collect the sample and distinct from consent to use the sample in specified research. Consent may be given for the unidentified or de-linked use of the donor’s tissue sample. However, in such situations, the donor must be informed that they will not be able to withdraw their consent in the future.

“Different cultural views may inform choice about donation of human tissue” (Ministry of Health, 2007). Some Māori will consider that human tissue contains genetic material that is collectively “owned” by whānau, hapū and iwi, and may wish to discuss this with their whānau, hapū or iwi. This issue is of significant concern and an appointment with the Tumuaki should be sought to discuss any proposal.

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