In 1984 Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act to address the nation’s critical organ donation shortage and improve the organ matching and placement process. The act made it illegal for anyone to give or acquire an organ for material gain. Now, almost three decades later, the act is making headlines again but this time in response to the push to rescind a ruling by the U.S. court of appeals for the ninth circuit. The court ruled that certain types of bone marrow donors could be compensated. Now the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is attempting to overturn the decision, arguing that bone-marrow is subject to the 1984 act and as such, may not be compensated.
Dr. Sally Satel is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and a practicing psychiatrist and lecturer at the Yale University School of Medicine; she examines mental health policy as well as political trends. She wrote the article “Why It’s Okay To Pay Bone-Marrow Donors” for Bloomberg.com.
Organ and tissue transplantation is a rapidly-developing area of medicine, one that’s rich with the potential to save lives and fraught with tough policy questions. The demand for replacement organs far outweighs the supply, so many patients die waiting. Others are willing to take drastic steps -- like moving to another state or a foreign country -- to get the organs they need to survive. Producer Meg Heckman brings us the story of Jim McHugh, a man in dire need of a liver transplant, and how his move to Indiana from New England during a snowstorm proved to be incredibly fortuitous.