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Education And Debate

Preventing children from donating may not be in their interests

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 27 January 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:240
  1. Stacy Month, division chiefa
  1. a Division of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Oakland, California 94611-5693, USA

    Ms Delany proposes putting more constraints on bone marrow donations by siblings. She wants all such donations to be unauthorised unless a specific forum agrees that it is in the child's best interests. I heartily disagree with this approach. Delany drastically understates the positive aspects to the child donor. We are not simply talking about a few days of feeling good because one helped out. We're talking about probably saving the life of one's brother or sister.

    The donor could benefit immensely from many years of a “whole” family. The death of a sibling is an overwhelmingly tragic event with severe psychological repercussions on all family members for the rest of their lives. If a child donates bone marrow to a sibling who eventually dies, of course that child would feel guilt. This guilt can, however, be overcome with good psychosocial support before and after bone marrow transplantation. The guilt associated with being the donor is probably only a minor component of the devastation of …

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