Not every patient in need of a lifesaving bone marrow transplant can find a matching donor. So a handful of cancer patients, a bone marrow transplant physician and an online group are suing the Justice Dept. to try to increase the odds.
The lawsuit, filed in October against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in his official capacity, argues that the 1984 National Organ Transplant Act violates the Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law. The law bans the sale of organs and threatens a prison sentence of up to five years for anyone convicted of breaking it.
The law is wrong, the plaintiffs say, because it treats bone marrow — a renewable bodily resource — the same way it treats solid organs such as lungs and eyes. Patients who donate blood, sperm and ova can be compensated legally. The group argues that financial incentives for bone marrow could help reduce the shortage for transplants.
The whole shebang.