Since the earliest days of transplantation, controversies have
arisen about the moral acceptability of using minor siblings as
donors. The controversy is straightforward. Small children cannot
consent. Donation of solid organs or bone marrow is not without
risks. It is difficult to justify subjecting a healthy minor to
some risks for the benefit of another person, even a family member.
Nevertheless, in spite of such moral qualms, doctors, parents, and
courts usually permit minors to be donors. The American Academy of
Pediatrics Committee on Bioethics recently codified the criteria
for approving such donations. We review the facts and the values
behind the controversy. We interviewed Rebecca Pentz, a leading
researcher in this area.