Every year, 1,000 Americans die because they cannot find a matching bone marrow donor. Minorities are hit especially hard. Common sense suggests that offering modest incentives to attract more bone marrow donors would be worth pursuing, but federal law makes that a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
The law in question in this particular case is The National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) of 1984 which treats compensating marrow donors as though it were black-market organ sales. Under NOTA, giving a college student a scholarship or a new homeowner a mortgage payment for donating marrow could land everyone—doctors, nurses, donors and patients—in federal prison for up to five years.
For anyone who has even the most tenuous grasp on economics, it only makes sense that providing incentives for marrow donors would expand the potential pool of donors by encouraging people who otherwise might not do so to donate. Simple economics.
According to IJ’s analysis of the issue:
NOTA’s criminal ban violates equal protection because it arbitrarily treats renewable bone marrow like nonrenewable solid organs instead of like other renewable or inexhaustible cells—such as blood—for which compensated donation is legal. That makes no sense because bone marrow, unlike organs such as kidneys, replenishes itself in just a few weeks after it is donated, leaving the donor whole once again. The ban also violates substantive due process because it irrationally interferes with the right to participate in safe, accepted, lifesaving, and otherwise legal medical treatment.
I applaud IJ’s efforts and sincerely hope they succeed in breaking through yet another wall of medical socialism.