In a complaint filed in United States District Court, (Central District (Los Angeles)), Plaintiff Dr. John Wagner, Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the Division of Hematology-Oncology and Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Director of the Center of Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics, and Medical Director of the Stem Cell Institute at the University of Minnesota, among other plaintiffs, challenges the federal prohibition on the sale or purchase of organs, specifically, arguing that the 1984 National Organ Transplant Act violates the Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law. The law bans the sale of organs and threatens a prison sentence of up to five years for anyone convicted of breaking it. (Plaintiffs in this challenge point out that bone marrow, unlike organs, regenerates so the donor is in a meaningfully different position than the donor, of, say, a kidney or lung.)
The complaint sets out Dr. Wagner’s significant achievements: he has authored more than 180 articles and book chapters on the subject of bone-marrow transplantation, is a member of a number of professional societies, and was elected into the American Society of Clinical Investigation in 2000 and Association of Physicians in 2006. He co-chairs the Committee on Alternative Stem Cell Sources of the International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Marrow Donors Program. He has received numerous awards including the 2002 Pioneer Award for Therapeutic Advancement from the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund. In addition to his academic work, the complaint continues, Dr. Wagner continues to be actively involved in the treatment of patients. In his career, Dr. Wagner has treated more than 2,000 patients who were in need of a bone-marrow transplant.
The 51-page complaint is a comprehensive primer on bone marrow transplantation, and is covered at amednews.com, which reports that the DOJ will move to dismiss the complaint in January.