Court: Some bone marrow donors can be paid

December 1, 2011 By PAUL ELIAS , Associated Press

(AP) -- A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that most bone marrow donors can be paid, overturning a decades-old law that made such compensation a crime.

In its ruling Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals said a makes donating a nearly identical process as donating blood plasma. It's legal - and common - to pay plasma donors. Therefore, the court ruled, bone marrow donors undergoing the new procedure can be paid as well and are exempt from a law making it a felony to sell for transplants.

The unanimous three-judge panel of the court did say it remains a felony to compensate donors for undergoing the older donation method, which extracts the marrow from the donors' bones.

The ruling overturns a lower court decision barring compensation for all bone marrow donations.

MoreMarrowDonors.org brought the case, seeking to offer donors $3,000 in the form of a scholarship, housing allowance or gift to charity.

At the heart of the court's ruling, which is sure to ignite renewed debate over paying medical donors, are two processes for transplanting bone marrow into patients suffering from diseases of the blood.

The first and older one is known as "aspiration" and requires the donor to endure painful and risky procedures that require hospitalization and anesthesia. Long, thick needles are inserted into the of the donor's hip bones to suck out the bone marrow. The court said that process was still covered by the National Organ Transplant Act, which explicitly prohibits paying donors for their bone marrow.

The newer procedure, which the court ruled exempt from the act, was developed about 20 years ago and involves harvesting cells from the bloodstream rather than in bone. Called "apheresis," the procedure requires the donor to undergo five days of drug injections to stimulate production of specialized . Then the donor sits in a recliner for several hours while the blood is filtered through a machine that extracts the specialized cells.

The court said the newer process isn't covered by the law because actual "bone marrow" isn't taken from the donor. The court said that the new process is basically a blood donation and noted that two-thirds of bone marrow transplants employ the newer process.

"It may be that `bone marrow transplant' is an anachronism that will soon fade away, as peripheral blood stem cell apheresis replaces as the transplant technique, much as `dial the phone' is fading away now that telephones do not have dials," Judge Andrew Kleinfeld wrote for the court.

Explore further: The Medical Minute: Donate life

shares

Related Stories

The Medical Minute: Donate life

April 14, 2011
Who wants to be a hero? No, it’s not a new TV reality show, it’s a real question. You can make a heroic gesture now by becoming an organ donor. It’s very simple to do. In Pennsylvania, as in most states, you ...

Recommended for you

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

Scientists unleash power of genetic data to identify disease risk

January 16, 2018
Massive banks of genetic information are being harnessed to shed new light on modifiable health risks that underlie common diseases.

Blood-vessel-on-a-chip provides insight into new anti-inflammatory drug candidate

January 15, 2018
One of the most important and fraught processes in the human body is inflammation. Inflammatory responses to injury or disease are crucial for recruiting the immune system to help the body heal, but inflammation can also ...

Molecule produced by fat cells reduces obesity and diabetes in mice

January 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers have discovered a new biological pathway in fat cells that could explain why some people with obesity are at high risk for metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. The new findings—demonstrated ...

Obese fat becomes inflamed and scarred, which may make weight loss harder

January 12, 2018
The fat of obese people becomes distressed, scarred and inflamed, which can make weight loss more difficult, research at the University of Exeter has found.

Optimized human peptide found to be an effective antibacterial agent

January 11, 2018
A team of researchers in the Netherlands has developed an effective antibacterial ointment based on an optimized human peptide. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes developing ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.