How Bone Marrow Markets Can Save Lives

Release Date
February 8, 2017


Healthcare Politics & Policy

3,000 Americans die every year for lack of bone marrow donors. Here’s how markets for marrow could save them. Peter Jaworski recaps his testimony to Congress.

    1. Pay for bone marrow, save lives (blog article): Check out this article from the Learn Liberty blog to learn more about Professor Jaworski’s argument for why we should pay bone marrow donors. 
    2. Should You Be Allowed to Buy or Sell Your Kidney? – Learn Liberty (video): Find out whether students think kidneys, blood, and hugs should be sold in the market and why or why not 
    3. Can Capitalism Save Lives? – Econ Chronicles – Learn Liberty (video): Professor Bryan Caplan argues that markets encourage us to do things that benefit others.
Evan S: You recently went before Congress and argued that being allowed to sell bone marrow would save lives. That’s a pretty bold statement. Care to explain yourself?
Peter Jaworski:  
It’s actually not controversial at all to say that the ability for people to sell their bone marrow if they want to or to be compensated for their bone marrow would save a lot of lives. We went on to a Hill briefing. It was co-hosted by the Georgetown Institute for the study of markets and ethics, as well as the [Nesconset 00:00:36] Center. The claim is that you and I are probably willing to donate our bone marrow. Both of us could join the registry right now and we could do it for free. Maybe I don’t know what your financial situation is like, but suppose that you are interested in donating bone marrow through this new procedure. We can talk about the procedure in a second, but there’s this new procedure and it allows you to donate your bone marrow and you’ll be almost good as new within something like a week.
You might be willing to donate that bone marrow, but could you take the time off work? Can you take the two weeks or maybe three weeks at the outset, maybe a full month, off of work? Probably not. There’s lots of people who would be willing to donate bone marrow if only they could afford the time off work. If I were to compensate you for that bone marrow, if you were to be paid an amount of money that would cover your expenses, at least your expenses and maybe a bit more, then that would give you reason to do it on top of your altruistic impulse. That’s why more people would donate. There is a shortage in bone marrow right now, not just in the US, but all over the world. If we just had more people donate their bone marrow, then many more lives would be saved.