Bone Marrow Donors to be Paid?
Last month, a three-judge panel ruled that bone marrow donors ought to be eligible for $3,000 scholarships, housing allowances and other charitable donations. The move from the San Francisco court was intended to encourage people who are matched with blood disease patients to donate their much needed bone marrow. But now, the Washington Post reports that the Obama administration is opposed to the change.
According to the newspaper, officials in the White House asked the appeals court to overturn the decision because it violates the National Organ Transplant Act—a piece of legislation that specifically outlaws the sale of bone marrow and other body parts. Fines and imprisonment for up to five years await those who violate the law.
But the libertarian group Institute for Justice believes that this portion of the law is faulty. The Arlington-based nonprofit is filing a constitutional challenge against the Organ Transplant Act, arguing that medical advances have made extracting bone marrow as easy as blood donation. When the act was written in 1984, this was not the case. Thick needles were inserted into a donor’s hip bones and cells were then extracted from the marrow.
Now, a process called apheresis makes donating marrow relatively easy. Donors are injected with a medication that ups the number of cells in the blood stream, and then relax in a recliner as a machine collects the extra blood stream cells and recycles the blood back into the donor.
Regardless of the politics, health advocates agree more bone marrow donations are needed in the United States. According to the group MoreMarrowDonors.org, thousands of Americans die every year because they cannot find matching bone marrow donors. They believe compensation could help encourage more people to donate.