29 October 2009
Institute for Justice to Fight for Bone Marrow Donor Compensation
The 1984 National Organ Transplant Act makes it illegal to compensate people for donating their bone marrow. Donating bone marrow is nothing like donating a kidney, part of a liver, or a lung. It no longer even involves the insertion of a long needle into the pelvic bone. Nowadays, a donor is given a drug to stimulate blood stem cell production and the cells are collected from the blood using the same equipment used to collect blood plasma, for which donors can be paid.
Because marrow cells produce white blood cells and these cells attack foreign tissues and cells, it is particularly important to get a very close match between bone marrow donors and recipients. For white people awaiting bone morrow, there is a 75% likelihood for finding a match. However, for minority members, the probability of finding a match falls to 25%! Apparently, the restriction on bone marrow donation compensation, which would help address the problem of such limited matches, was added to the National Organ Transplant Act at the last moment and no one really considered what they were doing. How typical for Congress. Apparently they rushed proposed legislation to a vote in 1984, perhaps without reading it, much as they do now without understanding its consequences!
The Institute for Justice is now working on a legal case to make it possible to pay bone marrow donors so that the chances of finding bone marrow matches will increase. This could save the lives of thousands of cancer patients. The Institute for Justice has done great work already in protecting individuals and small businesses from eminent domain abuse and ridiculous business licensing and regulations. It is a non-profit organization well worth supporting.