Argumentative Essay: Should Bone Marrow Donors be Compensated?

During the last few months, the government’s proposal to stop the compensation for bone marrow donations has created heated response and discussion from both opponents and advocates. It was only last October 2013 when the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) submitted a proposal about making circulating bone marrow stem cells a human organ. This in turn would outlaw any compensations or payments made to the donor (Park 1). While this decision can help thousands of sick patients who are in dire need of bone-marrow transplant to survive, many are opponents are arguing that extraction of bone marrow is much more different as compared to donating, say for example blood. As such, opponents of the proposal point out that it is only right to properly compensate the donor as it benefits both the patient and the donor as well.

The argument mainly comes from the National Organ Transplantation Act which forbids the buying as well as selling of human organs which includes bone marrow. However, opponents point out that locating a marrow donor is similar to looking a needle in a haystack. Moreover, reports indicate that every year, thousands of Americans are diagnosed with a serious blood disease. In fact, according to the Institute for Justice, over 44,000 Americans are expected to have leukemia. Of this figure, almost 4,000 children will incur this condition. Medical reports indicate the leukemia is the top form of cancer among children and more than 700 young patients succumb to this illness every year. For many of these patients, a transplant of bone marrow from a donor will be their best hope for survival. The problem however, is that a significant number of those on the national registry cannot be located or will not even donate when asked to do so. Hence, allowing the compensation for donations would mean that the pool of potential donor could increase. This is especially important to consider the fact that many of the patients do not have enough time to wait for a matching donor. Statistics show that every year, some 3,000 patients in need of a marrow transplant die as they helplessly wait for a match. This therefore means that paying a donor would substantially expand the number of life-saving donors (Satel & Viard 1).

Alternately, it is essential to point out that willingness to donate is an important factor to consider in this argument. A recent research shows that one of the top reasons to donate. While many respondents chose to donate bone marrow out of charity, majority admitted that cash payments would be a persuasive reward that will encourage them to donate. Part of their reason is that the process of collecting marrow stem cells is a demanding and taxing process. While some form of donations today can now be done thru apheresis which is a procedure similar to blood transplant, it is a different story when it comes to other types of bone marrow transplant. This is because number of types of transplants are both intensive and can involve significant risks such as infection or a weakened immune system. Although offering compensation will not reduce these risks, payments can encourage donors to offer their bone marrow (WNDU 1).

Based on the points provided, it can be argued that it is only proper to compensate bone marrow donors. This is because compensation increases the likelihood of willing donors. As mentioned, many patients each year, are diagnosed with a severe blood condition. And for many of them bone marrow transplant is their only chance for cure. However, there is a very slim chance that they can find a matching donor in the registry. Hence, offering cash payments can encourage individuals to donate their bone marrow stem cell. This similarly means that offering payment to bone marrow donors can increase the pool of donors. This in turn, could mean an increased chance of survival among patients.

Works Cited

Park, Alice. “Court Allows Payment for Bone Marrow”. Time. Retrieved 4 August 2014, from


Satel, S. & Viard A. “Don’t Ban Compensation for Bone Marrow Donors”. AEI. Retrieved 4 August 2014, from

“Paying for Bone Marrow”. WNDU. Retrieved 4 August 2014, from–179710731.html