Back in June Robert McNamara of the Institute for Justice told me about their battle to legalize bone marrow sales.  Just six months later, it looks like they’ve won.  Despite the text of NOTA (the National Organ Transplant Act), the Ninth Circuit ruled that bone marrow is not an organ.  From the Washington Post:

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that most bone marrow donors
can be paid, overturning the government’s interpretation of a
decades-old law making such compensation a crime punishable by up to
five years in prison. In its ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals said a technological breakthrough makes donating bone
marrow a process nearly identical to giving blood plasma…

[T]he court said the new technology isn’t covered by the law because
actual bone marrow isn’t taken from the donor. Instead, specialized
cells that grow into marrow are taken from a donor’s bloodstream, and
it’s basically a blood donation, not an organ transplant, the court

The ruling overturns a lower court decision barring compensation for all bone marrow donations.

lawsuit was filed by lawyers at the nonprofit Institute for Justice,
representing a coalition of patients, doctors and,
which is seeking to offer donors $3,000 in the form of a scholarship,
housing allowance or gift to charity.

The lawsuit, filed by the Institute for Justice on behalf of cancer
patients, their families, an internationally renowned marrow-transplant
surgeon, and a California nonprofit group, seeks to allow individuals
to create a pilot program that would encourage more bone-marrow
donations by offering modest compensation–such as a scholarship or
housing allowance–to donors…

Now, as a
result of this legal victory, not only will the pilot programs the
plaintiffs looked to create be considered legal, but any form
of compensation for marrow donors would be legal within the boundaries
of the Ninth Circuit, which includes California, Alaska, Arizona,
Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and various other
U.S. territories…

“Today’s opinion is a victory for common sense and for cancer
patients everywhere,” said Institute for Justice President and General
Counsel Chip Mellor. “No one should go to prison for simply trying to
save a life.”

Next stop: kidney selling.  Hey, I can dream.