Transplantation and Anatomy Act 1983

The South Australian Transplantation and Anatomy Act 1983 was approved by Parliament in May 1983.It replaced the Anatomy Act 1884, the Sale of Human Blood Act 1962 and the Transplantation of Tissue Act 1974.

The three principal areas regulated by the Act are:

  • Donation of tissue by living persons (including prohibition of donations of non-regenerative tissue from living children);
  • Donation of tissue after death; and
  • Post-mortem (autopsy) examinations and donation of bodies for anatomical purposes.

Foetal tissue, spermatozoa and ova are covered by the South Australian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988.

Designated Officers

Section 6 of the Transplantation and Anatomy Act 1983 defines a Designated Officer as being a person who is a medical practitioner and who has been appointed in writing by the Minister to be a designated officer for a hospital.The role of the Designated Officer does not involve advocacy for, or opposition to, organ and tissue donation or post-mortem examination.Their foremost responsibility and purpose is to represent the intentions and interest of the deceased person and the deceased’s family throughout the organ and tissue donation and/or post-mortem process.

For more information on Designated Officers, please visit the Organ and tissue donation for health professionals web page.

Schools of Anatomy

Schools of Anatomy provide important teaching opportunities through anatomical examination of cadavers and cadaveric materials. The School of Medical Sciences, University of Adelaide operates a central Body Donation Program and mortuary facility on behalf of all authorised institutions in South Australia. It manages acceptance of all bodies donated to science in SA and controls the transfer of anatomical resources to other authorised schools of anatomy within the State and Commonwealth.

It is important that all Schools of Anatomy comply with requirements pursuant to Part 6 of the Transplantation and Anatomy Act 1983, under which they are authorised. The following have been developed to assist Schools of Anatomy with meeting these requirements:

On 6 February 2018 new Regulations under the Transplantation and Anatomy Act 1983 were enacted that require all Schools of Anatomy in South Australia to comply with the Standard.  These Regulations allow Inspector(s) to be appointed by the Minister for Health to undertake formal inspections and audits of existing and prospective Schools of Anatomy against the Standard.

For further information, please refer to the Schools of Anatomy authorisations.  

Autopsy or post-mortem examination

An autopsy or post-mortem examination is a step-by-step examination of the outside of the body and of the internal organs by a pathologist.An autopsy may be requested by the Coroner, the Minister for Health, a hospital or the family of a deceased person.Part 4 of the Transplantation and Anatomy Act 1983 outlines the legislative requirements related to the authorisation of post-mortem examinations.

A hospital autopsy can only be performed following appropriate consents given by the senior available next of kin and authority from a Designated Officer.Should a hospital autopsy be requested, the hospital will provide the appropriate paperwork along with an information booklet for family and friends to better understand the process.

Further information, including a link to the family booklet, can be found on the post-mortem examination page.