Bryan Caplan  

Hail IJ: Bone Marrow Sales Are Now Legal

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Back in June Robert McNamara of the Institute for Justice told me about their battle to legalize bone marrow sales.  Just six months later, it looks like they've won.  Despite the text of NOTA (the National Organ Transplant Act), the Ninth Circuit ruled that bone marrow is not an organ.  From the Washington Post:
A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that most bone marrow donors can be paid, overturning the government's interpretation of a decades-old law making such compensation a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. In its ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a technological breakthrough makes donating bone marrow a process nearly identical to giving blood plasma...

[T]he 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 it's basically a blood donation, not an organ transplant, the court said...

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

The lawsuit was filed by lawyers at the nonprofit Institute for Justice, representing a coalition of patients, doctors and MoreMarrowDonors.org, which is seeking to offer donors $3,000 in the form of a scholarship, housing allowance or gift to charity.

The lawsuit, filed by the Institute for Justice on behalf of cancer patients, their families, an internationally renowned marrow-transplant surgeon, and a California nonprofit group, seeks to allow individuals to create a pilot program that would encourage more bone-marrow donations by offering modest compensation--such as a scholarship or housing allowance--to donors...

Now, as a result of this legal victory, not only will the pilot programs the plaintiffs looked to create be considered legal, but any form of compensation for marrow donors would be legal within the boundaries of the Ninth Circuit, which includes California, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and various other U.S. territories...

"Today's opinion is a victory for common sense and for cancer patients everywhere," said Institute for Justice President and General Counsel Chip Mellor. "No one should go to prison for simply trying to save a life."

Next stop: kidney selling.  Hey, I can dream.


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COMMENTS (3 to date)
John Thacker writes:

Excellent. Makes me feel even better about the charitable donation I gave to the IJ last week.

Jonathon Hunt writes:

This is probably the start of the next Repo Men movie.

Adam Kaplan writes:

To purchase bone marrow on credit or not to purchase bone marrow on credit...

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