Tuesday, July 10, 2012
An Organ 'Donor' Revolution
Wall Street Journal
July 9, 2012
With all eyes fixed on the Supreme Court's recent health-care decision, a life-saving development swooped in under the radar: It is now legal to compensate bone-marrow donors. This represents a triumph for the 2,000-3,000 people with cancer and blood diseases who die each year while awaiting a marrow transplant.
Efforts to challenge the federal ban on compensating marrow donors began three years ago, led by the Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm. The firm's clients were families afraid their ill loved ones would die because they couldn't get a transplant.
Last December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled unanimously in their favor. Pivotal to the judge's decision was that modern bone-marrow donation is accomplished through a process called apheresis, through which doctors filter bone marrow stem cells from blood drawn from a donor's arm. The process takes several hours.
The apheresis technique did not exist in the early 1980s, when the law banning organ sales (the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984) was drafted. At the time, marrow donation was arduous, involving anesthesia and large hollow needles for extracting marrow directly from a donor's hip bone.
Now that apheresis makes donating marrow cells akin to giving plasma, which can already be paid for under the 1984 law, the court saw no logical basis for disallowing payment for it.
Posted by Yulie Foka at 8:14 AM