A Richer Pool to Draw From

Most Multiple Myeloma patients who get stem cell transplants use their own cells. But some don’t and other diseases that can be supressed by transplants have to rely on a transplant pool. United States law has always made it unlawful to sell human organs or cells to prevent the establishment of criminal enterprises. However, the law was changed recently, mostly by the work of a mother seeking to improve the available pool of stem cells for her daughters, who both had a condition that heightened the likelihood of cancers. She lobbied hard to permit compensation for transplant materials in order to encourage more people to donate. Her efforts paid off, and it is now legal to provide transplant materials for profit.

This might sound like a fairy tale with a happy ending, except for the fact that we now have to see whether or not this was a positive change. As it was, it didn’t matter what one’s economic situation was, a position in line for a transplant was a position in line. But with the change in the law it now becomes possible to offer a higher compensation rate and get favoritism. In other words, those with greater financial resources are going to supercede those less economically fixed. At its worst is the possibility that those with only their health insurance to rely on might be no better off than those with no insurance at all.