My 11-year-old son, Arya, was an angel who transformed my life. His death from leukemia last April took away not just my only child, it also took away my very heart and soul, and triggered the collapse of my 23-year marriage.
Arya's tragedy happened in part because of a lack of bone marrow donors. Each year, as many as 3,000 people in the U.S. die waiting for a bone marrow donor match. A significantly higher number of people die from complications arising from partially matched donors. This is largely avoidable, and the shortage of donors is made worse by a federal law that I and other families of cancer patients are fighting in federal court. On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif., will hear arguments in our constitutional challenge against the U.S. attorney general.
Our suit contests the part of the National Organ Transplant Act that bans families like ours from setting up a pilot program to offer modest compensation to donors with the most needed bone marrow and thus save more lives. The law makes offering any compensation -- such as a housing allowance -- a federal crime that could land everyone involved (from the doctor to the donor to the patient) in jail. In our view, the Constitution does not allow the government to imprison people for doing no harm while saving lives...
The government currently forbids would-be bone marrow donors from receiving compensation from the potential recipients. By forbidding consenting adults from trading value-for-value, this results in an artificial shortage of marrow -- and costs lives. Allowing these exchanges would be a win-win for all parties.