Suite Filed to Allow Purchase of Bone Marrow


Bone marrow transplants are considered organ transplants by federal law and regulated as such. United States federal law prohibits purchasing organs under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (1968). The act created a uniform legal procedure for persons who wish to donate organs and for hospitals and medical institutions that want to accept them.

The uniform act forbids the sale of body parts. At the beginning, the recipient was expressly forbidden to pay for the donated organ but were required to pay for the cost of transportation and transplant.

The 1984 National Organ Transplant Act (42 U.S.C.A. §§ 273 et seq.) provided funds to help establish "qualified organ procurement organizations", banned the interstate sale of organs, and created a task force to study organ transplantation policy issues.

There remains a constant shortage of organs and bone marrow for needed transplants. Approximately 2,000 people die each year waiting for a bone marrow donor.

The libertarian Institute for Justice is helping a group who claim that bone marrow is not a human organ and as such they should be allowed to purchase the needed marrow.

According to Fox News, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Doreen Flynn, the mother of five kids. Three of her children have a condition called Fanconi Anemia. Flynn says that allowing compensation for marrow would increase her daughters' chances of finding a donor.


Compatible bone marrow donors can be difficult to find. Even with 7 million people registered as donors, only 35,000 have ever been found to be suitable matches for people on the waiting list and agreed to follow through with a donation which is a painful procedure.

Often when a matching donor is found, the potential donor will back out. Often it is for financial reasons.

The suit aims to change the law which the plaintiffs see as a “bad law.”

Ethicists are concerned this could become an obstacle for organ donation. Organ donations have been “gifts.” Would donors be reluctant to continue to “give” rather than demand payment?

Jeff Rowes, the head attorney on the case for the Institute for Justice, defended the lawsuit, which was filed against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on October 26 in the U.S. District Court of Central California.

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National Marrow Donor Program
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