LawCall - Medical

Your loved one needs a bone marrow transplant, but you cannot find a match within your own family. Should you be able to buy bone marrow? According to a federal statute, bone marrow is classified as an organ, and may not be sold.

Such was the case with a Maine woman whose baby girl was born with a rare, inherited blood disorder. Fanconi anemia destroys bone marrow and makes sufferers highly susceptible to cancer.

Doreen Gummoe’s 14-year old daughter, Jordan, was diagnosed with the disorder in 2012. Normally, siblings are the most viable donors, but Jordan’s brothers weren’t matches. Gummoe gave birth to twin girls in 2005, and they too have the disorder, and will eventually need a bone marrow transplant, too.

Gummoe looked to the National Marrow Donor Program’s donor list for help to find a match for Jordan. Many times, donors do not wish to go through the procedure in order to donate. At one time it was a very painful procedure that required marrow to be drawn from the pelvic bone to confirm a match. Today, the process is virtually painless and involves connecting donors to a machine that draws blood, harvests the stems cells, and then returns the blood to the donor where the stems cells will regenerate.

The 1984 National Organ Transplant Act states that buying and selling organs is illegal, and bone marrow is considered an organ under the act. Gummoe decided to fight the government and joined a class action lawsuit against the U. S. attorney general to challenge the law.

An attorney with the Institute for Justice argues that, “it’s legal for people to pay for blood, sperm and eggs…’ plus, it’s crazy to lump in bone marrow with solid organs, like kidneys, that a donor can’t grow back.”

The government responded that bone marrow is clearly an organ, and that human body parts should not be considered commodities.

What do you think? Should it be legal to pay for bone marrow?

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