Payment for bone marrow allowed

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GloriaInTX's picture
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Payment for bone marrow allowed

Do you think this is a good or bad idea? Should payment be allowed for other organs?

How much would it take for you to consider selling your bone marrow? A U.S. appeals court puts the price at about $3,000 in a ruling that now makes it legal to pay donors for their bone-marrow tissue.

The court?s decision may well help thousands of sick patients who need bone-marrow transplants to survive, but it also begs the question, What other body parts might next be up for sale?

The ruling came about at the end of 2011, in a decision to an October 2009 lawsuit brought by a group of cancer patients, parents and bone-marrow-donation advocates against the government over the federal law banning the buying and selling of bodily organs. The plaintiffs were led by Doreen Flynn, who has three daughters who suffer from Fanconi anemia, a blood disorder that requires bone-marrow transplants to treat. Flynn and the other plaintiffs said that too many such patients die waiting for transplants and argued that we should be allowed to pay people to donate their marrow as a way of ensuring a more reliable supply. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed.

At the core of the plaintiffs? argument was the National Organ Transplantation Act (NOTA), which since 1984 has forbid the buying and selling of human organs, including bone marrow. But new developments in bone-marrow extraction have made marrow donation not much different from donating blood: traditionally, bone-marrow donation required anesthesia and long needles to extract the marrow from the hip bones of donors. Now, a technique called peripheral apheresis allows doctors to extract blood stem cells directly from the blood, instead of the bone ? patients first take a drug that pulls stem cells from the bone and into the blood ? meaning that the marrow cells should be considered a fluid like blood, rather than an organ, the plaintiffs argued. NOTA doesn?t prohibit payments for blood or other fluids, such as plasma or semen.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder decided not to ask the Supreme Court to review the appellate court?s decision, which would have been the next step in overturning it. That means the ruling stands ? and that people can now be paid up to $3,000 for their marrow, as long as it is collected by apheresis. In a concession to the spirit of NOTA, however, the compensation can?t be in cash; it needs to be in the form of a voucher that can be applied to things such as scholarships, education, housing or a donation to a charity.

While the decision applies only to the nine states covered by the Ninth Circuit court, and only to bone marrow obtained through apheresis, it does raise bigger questions about how we will look at organ donation in the future. With about 114,000 people waiting for organs in the U.S. alone on any given day, and only 3,300 donors, the urgent medical need runs up against moral standards of the value of human life. Once we start paying for the parts we need, though, how far do we go? ?We don?t allow people to buy and sell human beings, that?s slavery,? says Dr. Robert Klitzman, director of the bioethics program at Columbia University. ?Should we allow people to buy and sell human body parts??

Full article: http://healthland.time.com/2012/07/02/a-court-allows-payment-for-bone-marrow-should-people-be-able-to-sell-their-parts/?hpt=hp_bn16#ixzz1zZbLWTTG

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Hmmm...I need to read more on this but what happens if you can't pay for an organ? It seems like it will cause a disparity between wealthy patients and poor patients.

wlillie's picture
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I love it. Especially since it's not cash.

GloriaInTX's picture
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I think it is a great idea. They already pay people for blood I don't see how this is any different. It isn't a huge amount of money but makes up for the inconvenience that people endure having to take a drug and the process of having the marrow taken out. I think it would definitely encourage people to join the donor ranks and help those desperate to find a match. I don't really have a problem with payments for other organs too as long as there is some kind of safety net to make sure that the donation is voluntary and it is a reasonable amount.

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I have no problem with bone marrow donors being rewarded for their generosity. I actually believe that bone marrow harvested in the traditional way should be rewarded, too, and I'm disappointed that the court didn't take this opportunity to more properly define bone marrow as a blood product, which is what it is, rather than as tissue or organ, which it is not. What if someone was a good match but she couldn't take the drugs for some reason so she had to have the big needle procedure? Why should her donation be considered less worthy of a gift than someone else's simply because of the way it was done? I also don't think that potential recipients should be excluded if they can't pay a donor fee. Medical care is a basic human right, not a privilege of the rich.

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I am already part of a bone marrow foundation (http://marrow.org/Home.aspx) and personally think it's a good idea. When women donate eggs, they are compensated. When men donate sperm, they are compensated. Blood donations as well.

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I've never been paid for blood donations, and I donate a lot. I've received thank you gifts like movie tickets, a Giants shirt, and a gift card for a local restaurant, but never cash. I wonder if California has different regulations than other states? Or maybe it's because it's a non-profit blood center?

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I think they are really talking about plasma. You can get paid for plasma, it's illegal to get paid for blood.

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"wlillie" wrote:

I think they are really talking about plasma. You can get paid for plasma, it's illegal to get paid for blood.

Up here Canadian Blood Services doesn't pay donors for blood, platelets, plasma or stem cells. The CBS is funded by provincial govts and the federal govt. It's public and I'm pretty sure it's the only collection agency in the country for those particular products.

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They aren't paid for the plasma so much as the time it takes to get it. It's awesome that you guys get enough volunteer donations. I have no problems donating blood, but the one time I tried plasma, it sucked and took an hour and a half. Not my thing.

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For plasma donations, our blood center has these awesome chairs with a video screen, you can bring in a DVD or choose one from their collection. They pop that in, hook you up, and you just lie there watching a movie. I've never tried donating plasma because I have a teensy tiny little bladder, and I'm afraid that to be hydrated enough for the donation, I would have to pee halfway through.

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DH recently donated his kidney. I am not sure how this would compare to donating bone marrow, but as for organs I can see both sides. On one side, the only way DH was able to do this is that he works in a school and already had the summer off. We would not have been able to afford to take off 6 weeks without pay in the middle of the school year. There were programs that helped pay travel expenses and such, but it was still a financial loss. If there was funding to cover those things then more people would be able to donate organs. On the other side, If it cost the recipient to receive an organ the poor who are also experiencing loss of wages and medical expenses would not be able to afford it. I think a more reasonable solution would be a tax deduction or credit. The same way you can get a tax credit for adopting or buying a more fuel efficient car or heating system.

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The federal government and quite a few state governments already have the credits in place. And there are programs to cover time off for work, they just take as much work to get approved as it takes to become a donor.

livingdonorsonline.org- though I don't know if they can help you after the fact.

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"wlillie" wrote:

The federal government and quite a few state governments already have the credits in place. And there are programs to cover time off for work, they just take as much work to get approved as it takes to become a donor.

livingdonorsonline.org- though I don't know if they can help you after the fact.

Thank you for this. There is a tax credit that we did not know about.