Children as Hematopoietic Stem Cell Donors
Pediatrics 2010 February; 125(2): 392-404
In the past half-century, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has become standard treatment for a variety of diseases in children and adults, including selected hematologic malignancies, immunodeficiencies, hemoglobinopathies, bone marrow failure syndromes, and congenital metabolic disorders. There are 3 sources of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cells: bone marrow, peripheral blood, and umbilical cord blood; each has its own benefits and risks. Children often serve as hematopoietic stem cell donors, most commonly for their siblings. HLA-matched biological siblings are generally preferred as donors because of reduced risks of transplant-related complications as compared with unrelated donors. This statement includes a discussion of the ethical considerations regarding minors serving as stem cell donors, using the traditional benefit/burden calculation from the perspectives of both the donor and the recipient. The statement also includes an examination of the circumstances under which a minor may ethically participate as a hematopoietic stem cell donor, how the risks can be minimized, what the informed-consent process should entail, the role for a donor advocate (or some similar mechanism), and other ethical concerns. The American Academy of Pediatrics holds that minors can ethically serve as stem cell donors when specific criteria are fulfilled.
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