For eye donation retrieval must be completed within 24 hours after death and the body should preferably be refrigerated. For all other tissues retrieval should be as soon after death as possible. If the body has not been refrigerated, procurement of tissues must be completed within 12 hours after death. If the body has been refrigerated within 6 hours of death, procurement should preferably start within 24 hours and must be completed within 48 hours of death.
Tissues must be placed at a temperature of 0–10°C within 4 hours of retrieval.
Every effort must be made to minimise contamination of tissue during procurement.
The procurement facility must be suitable for procurement of tissues and must be risk assessed prior to commencement of tissue retrieval.
A local sterile field must be created using sterile drapes. An appropriate antibacterial skin preparation agent must be used before commencing the retrieval.
All instruments used during the retrieval must be sterile and should be stored on a back table which is covered with a sterile drape. Where possible, single-use equipment should be used.
Staff conducting the retrieval must be appropriately gowned in sterile clothing, and wear sterile gloves and protective masks.
Every effort should be made to minimise the number of people present during deceased tissue retrieval and to ensure that a post-mortem is not proceeding during the retrieval.
Where possible the retrieval should precede any post-mortem examination of the donor. In cases referred to the Coroner (or the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland), the Coroner’s consent must be obtained to enable the retrieval of tissues.
It is integral to the maintenance of the dignity of the donor that the body is cleaned and reconstruction is carefully undertaken. Whenever long bones are removed they must be replaced with appropriate prostheses. All incisions should be neatly sutured.
For similar reasons, skin must not be procured from the neck, arms, face or other areas that may affect funeral viewing.
Every effort should be made to ensure that appropriate advice on the handling of deceased donors after retrieval should be made available for mortuary and funeral home staff.
At the time of donation, the container for each category of tissue (e.g. skin, bone or heart valves) must be labelled with the nature of the contained tissue and a barcoded tissue or donor identification (ID) label as appropriate.
The accompanying donation record must be labelled with the same tissue or donor identification number(s), key donor identifiers (name, date of birth etc.), and the date of collection prior to removal from the retrieval site. Bacteriology and blood samples, together with accompanying documentation where relevant, must be labelled according to agreed local procedures such that the results can be linked to the correct donor/tissue while still preserving anonymity where required.
A double container system is required for all tissues retrieved. The containers must not be opened until ready for use or further aseptic processing at a facility approved by the tissue bank.