Organ transplants

Trump Administration Withdraws Proposed Obama Ban on Compensation for Bone Marrow

Thousands of patients who might have been helped died while rule was pending.

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BoneMarrowStemCellsMarrowDrives
Marrow Drives

The Office of Management and Budget has withdrawn a proposed rule banning compensation for hematopoietic stem cells. In other words, you can get paid when someone harvests stem cells from your bone marrow.

Bone marrow transplantation is used to treat a variety of ailments, including aplastic anemia, sickle cell anemia, bone marrow damage during chemotherapy, and blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. In 1984, Congress passed the National Organ and Transplant Act, which outlawed compensation to the donors of solid organs like kidneys and livers. Oddly, the act also defined renewable bone marrow as a solid organ.

Originally, hematopoietic stem cells were obtained from bone marrow obtained by inserting a needle into donors' hip bones. Researchers later developed a technique in which donors are treated with substance that overstimulates the production of hematopoietic stem cells, which then circulate in their bloodstreams. In a process similar to blood donation, the hematopoietic stem cells are then filtered from the donors' blood. The red blood cells and plasma are returned to the donors.

More Marrow Donors, a California-based nonprofit, wanted to set up a system to encourage hematopoietic stem cell donations with $3,000 awards, in the form of scholarships, housing allowances, or gifts to charity. The Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm, brought suit on their behalf, and in 2012 a federal appeals court sensibly ruled that the law's ban on compensation for solid organ donations did not apply to stem cells obtained from donors' bloodstreams. The Obama administration reacted by proposing a regulation defining stem cells obtained from blood as the equivalent of a solid organ.

Now the new administration has withdrawn the proposal.

"Banning compensation for donors would have eliminated the best incentive we have—money—for persuading strangers to work for each other," Jeff Rowes, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, says in a press release. "Predictably, the ban on compensation for blood stem cell donors created chronic shortages and waiting lists. During the past four years, thousands of Americans needlessly died because compensation for bone marrow donors was unavailable."

The system of uncompensated donation is falling far short of meeting patient needs. As the Institute for Justice notes:

At any given time, more than 11,000 Americans are actively searching for a bone marrow donor. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, Caucasian potential donors are available and willing to donate about 51 percent of the time; Hispanic and Asian about 29 percent; and African-American about 23 percent. Caucasian patients can find a matching, available and willing donor about 75 percent of the time; Hispanic about 37 percent; Asian-American about 35 percent; and African-American patients only about 19 percent of the time. This demonstrates the huge gap between the need for compatible donors and the supply.

This is even more true in the case of solid organs from live and brain-dead donors. Right now there are more than 116,000 Americans waiting for a life-saving transplant organ. My colleagues and I at Reason have been arguing for decades in favor of compensating live donors for kidneys and pieces of their livers and the next-of-kin of brain-dead donors for other solid organs. If researchers and entrepreneurs succeed in boosting bone marrow donations by implementing various compensation schemes, perhaps that will prompt Congress to repeal its ill-conceived ban on compensation for organs donated for transplant.

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  1. Trump is fucking evil.

    1. Melania is the devil?

    2. your hate of Trump has blinded you from reality…Trump is withdrawing a ban on being compensated for giving marrow…exactly how is that evil? What is evil is banning free-enterprise as Obama tried.

      1. Pretty sure that was sarcasm.

      2. He meant evil is getting fucked by Trump.

    3. In 84 the president was Reagan, who I in fact do/did consider pure fucking evil. Or alternatively he was one of the greatest stooges to ever hold the office, take your pick. IMHO so many of the US’s current social ills can be traced back to policies enacted under his watch.
      Trump on the other hand is less evil and more buffoonish in how he goes about exercising the office. Doesn’t mean that great evil won’t or can’t occur under his watch, just that his evil is more garden variety. Extreme self interest coupled with an apparent disinterest in anything else. And a lack of ability to devise any sort of viable long term strategy for, well anything, other than tweeting “alternative facts” I guess.

  2. In 1984, Congress passed the National Organ and Transplant Act, which outlawed compensation to the donors of solid organs like kidneys and livers.

    It doesn’t get said enough: Fuck Congress.

    1. As the old saying goes: the opposite of progress is Congress.

  3. Thousands of patients who might have been helped died while rule was pending.

    Sucks for them, I guess. But do I have to care how many people died waiting for a shitty ban to disappear?

    1. You don’t have to care about anything at all. Which is best. I don’t care about anything and mostly spend my days quietly watching the sun go down, Recommend it to everyone.

  4. Oh, no. I’m not paying for a second kidney. GIMME A KIDNEY.

  5. Woooo-Hoooo! I can now finally be paid, legally, (maybe) for the content of my bone!

    I have long dreamed of this day!!!

  6. The system of uncompensated donation is falling far short of meeting patient needs.

    Next stop, mandatory donations.

    1. Did you see the racial donation/recipient disparity? Hematopoetic stem cells are not protected free speech asshole!

      1. Penaltax.

  7. Those stem cells, you didn’t make…..aw, dammit!!

  8. I made thousands of dollars in college selling my plasma twice a week, (I still have a needle scar on each arm since they went in through the same hole every week). That would have been illegal in many states, but it allowed me to make it through college without a more time-consuming part-time job.

    1. And now you’re colorblind!

    2. I sold a body fluid too

  9. If researchers and entrepreneurs succeed in boosting bone marrow donations by implementing various compensation schemes, perhaps that will prompt Congress to repeal its ill-conceived ban on compensation for organs donated for transplant.

    Pretty sure the government will always have a problem with people selling their bodies.

    1. Well, yeah. It gets in the way of government ownership of everything.

  10. “which outlawed compensation to the donors of solid organs…Oddly, the act also defined renewable bone marrow as a solid organ.”

    Why do words never mean what I think they mean? It’s almost like words have no meaning at all and a politician can decide a new meaning whenever it suits their purpose:
    “All men are created equal”… well blacks aren’t really people.
    “Shall not be infinged”… well the constitution isn’t a suicide pact so we can’t infringe on what you never had the authority do.
    “solid organs” … well organs are in your body and so is bone marrow so that makes it an organ.


  11. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, Caucasian potential donors are available and willing to donate about 51 percent of the time; Hispanic and Asian about 29 percent; and African-American about 23 percent.

    More examples of white privilege! White people are the most selfish people on Earth!

    /Progressive

  12. Meh. Money isn’t the barrier to me donating, it’s that whole “gay blood ban” thing. Repeal that and I’ll go back to donating on the regular.

  13. Thanks, Obama!

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  15. What was the reason for the Obama administration’s ban on paying for the donation of hemopoeitic stem cells?

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