The ethical justification for minor sibling bone marrow donation: a case study.


Journal Article

Using a case study of a mentally delayed minor sibling donating bone marrow for his older sister, we discuss an alternative ethical justification for minor donation. The accepted justification for permitting minor siblings to donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells is that the donor will benefit because of the greater likelihood of survival and less suffering of the sibling. Based on the limited data from four small retrospective studies of the risks and benefits for minor donors, we argue that there is a possibility, illustrated by this case, that the donor may not benefit, particularly if the transplant is unsuccessful. We, therefore, encourage the oncology community to increase support for minor donors, particularly mentally delayed ones. We also argue that the donation can be ethically justified based on the donor's familial duty to his sister. The basis of familial duties is complex, including such factors as the nature, intimacy, and history of the relationship and the specific risks and benefits to all involved. We examine each of these factors for our case study.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Pentz, RD; Haight, AE; Noll, RB; Barfield, R; Pelletier, W; Davies, S; Alderfer, MA; Hinds, PS

Published Date

  • February 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 13 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 148 - 151

PubMed ID

  • 18305059

Pubmed Central ID

  • 18305059

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1083-7159

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1634/theoncologist.2007-0185


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States