The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled in favor of the Institute for Justice and the families on whose behalf a 2009 lawsuit was filed; offering compensation to bone marrow donors is no longer a felony. The logic is that if compensation is legal for plasma donors it should be legal for bone marrow donors, particularly considering the new method of acquiring marrow.
According to The Associated Press:
The court said the new technology isn't covered by the law because actual bone marrow isn't taken from the donor. Instead, specialized cells that grow into marrow are taken from a donor's bloodstream, and is basically a blood donation, not an organ transplant, the court said. It noted that two-thirds of bone marrow transplants employ the newer process.
Tens of thousands of people with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases are saved each year by such procedures. An estimated three thousand others die waiting for donations, which unlike simple blood donations need to be genetically compatible, making matches especially difficult for African Americans.
The National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 remains. Buying and selling vital kidneys, hearts, and livers is stil very illegal. And absurdly, a third of people in need of bone marrow — those using the older, more invasive method of extraction — will still have the threat of felony charges hanging over them if they try to add an incentive to speed up this life-saving process.
Still, it's a victory.
Check out IJ's press release on the decision here.