The DOJ has declined to continue fighting against making it legal for bone marrow donors to be compensated.
Now if only this will increase the donor pool. If so, it may mean that we won't have to tell a newlywed 26 y/o that he's going to die because he has no match. Maybe we won't have to send a 56 y/o grandmother home on hospice because her donor backed out at the last minute. And, maybe, the next time a matching brother refuses to schedule donation because he's afraid it will hurt we will be able to find another match in time to save his 23 y/o brother.
While the procedure is more complex than simple blood donation, they are correct in stating that pluripotent stem cells are immature blood cells. As a matter of fact all components of blood stem from them. Hence the stem part of stem cells.
Stem cell transplants come in three types;
Autologous - where the patient himself is harvested
Allogeneic - donation from a matching full brother or sister without the disease
MUD - matched unrelated donor - these are people who donate out of the kindness of their hearts. As you can expect, there aren't enough of them and this legislation may help correct that problem. Unlike blood donation, stem cell donation requires more from the donor, though it's not a surgery or a particularly complex procedure.
Donation is relatively simple. The donor is given a series of growth factor shots (tiny needle, like giving insulin and it usually only takes a couple of days worth ) and once he has enough extra cells a large IV line is placed. This line has two hook ups and blood is drawn out of one side, centrifuged and the stem cell layer pulled off, and then put back in. The process takes about 2 1/2 hours and the donation is complete.
The transplant part involves strong chemotherapy to kill off the bone marrow, then the next morning an IV drip of the stem cells. Takes about 30 minutes for the drip. Smart little buggers, they know exactly what to do and will work their way into the bone marrow and begin producing good cells.
A MUD transplant does not require permanently suppressing the immune system like organ donation, usually within a year the cells "belong" to the recipient and all medications are tapered off.
I know this is more than anyone not involved in the field or needing a transplant wants to know, but I'm really hoping this new ability to buy stem cells will increase the donor pool. I'm tired of watching people who could have been saved die. But then I don't know anyone in medicine who couldn't say that.