Donations of a body or tissue from a body is usually done for two reasons:

  1. For therapy; or
  2. For research.

Donations can only be given to beneficiaries who have licenses and are authorized to deal with bodies and tissue such as hospitals or universities that are involved with medical and or dental training.

Requirements for donations:

The biggest requirement for anatomical donations is consent. The consent of the person must be made when that person is competent when giving their consent which can be done in one of the following three ways:

  1. In his or her will;
  2. In another document signed by the donor with the signatures of at least two competent witnesses over the age of 14 years old; or
  3. Orally in the presence of at least two competent witnesses over the age of 14 years old (not recommended).

When the donor did not express consent:

There may be instances where the donor did not express consent for a donation. In these instances, his or her spouse, major child, parent or guardian or major sibling at the time can make the decision to give consent on behalf of the donor.

What if no family can be found:

There are provisions that allow a district surgeon to give consent for a donation if the deceased’s family cannot be located and he/she is convinced that reasonable steps were taken to try and locate said family members. Two doctors also need to confirm in writing that the tissue of the body of the deceased is required immediately to save the life of a recipient or in the case of eyes their sight.

Void donations:

Donations will be void if the donor or any other person negotiates and or receives compensation for any anatomical donation.

Can you revoke your consent:

Yes, consent can be revoked the same way it was given (in writing, signed and witnessed) or simply the document giving consent can be destroyed.

For more information on the rights to your body and the law of persons contact our offices today on 031 003 0630 or email us on