Medicine And The Media

Bone marrow transplant raises issues of privacy

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 03 May 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1356
  1. Sally Davies, consultant haematologist
  1. Research and Development Directorate NHS Executive, North Thames

    “Sentenced to die by my sister—Leukaemia victim refused her only chance of transplant.” I was filled with repugnance when I saw this headline in the Daily Mail, but the newspaper achieved its aim as I borrowed a copy in order to read the whole article. The story is that of a woman in her 30s who presented with acute leukaemia three years ago, has relapsed, and expects that a bone marrow transplant will cure her.

    A search through the international bone marrow donor registries produced no donor who was tissue compatible, so her sister, who has a phobia of hospitals, was induced to have a blood test and found to match. Sadly, the sister refused to donate her bone marrow, thus apparently condemning the patient to certain death.

    Intellect then switched in for me for—while we do not know the type of acute leukaemia, the …

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