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Liberalize the Market for Bone Marrow

Here’s a letter to the Los Angeles Times:

Your strongest argument in favor of the current prohibition on monetary payments to bone-marrow donors is that, by permitting such payments, donors will be more likely to lie about their health, thus endangering the lives of patients who receive bone-marrow transplants (“Battling over bone marrow,” March 3).

But the lone example you use to bolster your point is the tragic case from three years ago of an unpaid blood donor who lied about his sexual history and, thus, transmitted AIDS to unsuspecting blood recipients.  (I’m curious: do you also favor bans on payments for newspapers because persons paid to report the news might be lured by the prospect of earning money to lie in order make their ‘reports’ more exciting?  Do you believe that the increased trustworthiness of newspapers supplied only by persons who volunteer to produce newspapers would outweigh the dramatic reduction in the supply of newspapers that would follow upon a ban on payments for newspapers?)

While it’s true that liberalizing the market for bone-marrow will not eliminate all problems, surely persons whose lives are already severely at risk because of today’s government-created shortage of transplantable bone-marrow ought at least be given the option of quickly receiving marrow from a paid donor or of waiting indefinitely for marrow from an unpaid donor.

Donald J. Boudreaux