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Ethics Behav. 1992;2(3):185-201.

Psycholegal issues in sibling bone marrow donation.


The only hope of survival for children with a number of life-threatening illnesses is a successful bone marrow transplant (BMT). Unlike the treatment source for most therapies, the raw material for transplant therapy comes from a human being. Although many BMTs are autologous, utilizing the patient's own bone marrow, a large percentage of childhood BMTs rely on bone marrow from children or adolescents who are biological siblings to the sick child. Medical and legal systems are confronted with a dilemma when healthy children are needed to undergo minimally risky, yet somewhat painful, procedures for the benefit of their critically ill siblings. This article reviews legal issues involved in sibling bone marrow donation and psychological research that is relevant to those issues. The article concludes with proposed directions for future psycholegal research and a discussion of ethical issues that are not amenable to empirical investigation.

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