Dr Mikaela Brusasco1
1The Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside, Qld
The Victorian Human Tissue Act 1982 was instituted almost forty years ago and serves to govern (among other purposes) the use of human tissue in paediatric bone marrow transplantation. Such donations are directed towards family members for the purposes of curing potentially life-threatening illnesses.
Following an examination of how and why paediatric donations are an arguably vital part of Australia’s donation process, I argue that the Human Tissue Act fails potential donors in its overreliance on current state and federal statute and common law precedent. This overreliance deprives donors of autonomous control over their bodies, permitting their instrumentalisation by parents and loved ones. In large part, the issues with the Act directly stem from the unique circumstances of organ donation that necessitate special legislative attention.
The final portion of this essay highlights current and potential safeguards that interpose to suppress some of the issues present for donors.
Mikaela Brusasco is a practising doctor at The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane and an associate lecturer at the University of Queensland. She holds undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in Biomedicine and Medicine respectively from the University of Melbourne, and is completing her final semester of a Masters in Bioethics through Monash University Bioethics Centre. She has a particular interest in how ethical practice shapes public policy, and incorporates her learning into her own work.