Monday, August 18, 2014

Iowa Gay Teen's Organ Donation Rejected Because He Was *Assumed* to be Sexually Active

A 16-year-old gay teen from Altoona, IA, committed suicide earlier this year because of chronic bullying. Months before his death, he had registered to become an organ donor and many of his organs were successfully transplanted; including his kidneys, his liver, his heart, and his lungs.

However, his mother now reports that his eye cannot be donated because of his sexuality:
His eyes were rejected because of an FDA regulation. It came about decades ago, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It makes would-be donors ineligible to donate certain tissue, if they’re believed to have a “risk factor.”
“They asked me if my son was sexually active, and my response was something to the effect of ‘No.’ He’d never had a boyfriend. I’d never known of him going out on a date, but then I was like, ‘I don’t know. He’s 16 years old,'” Moore said.
With that, the donor network had to assume he’d been sexually active in the last five years, and thereby ineligible to donate his tissue or eyes.
You read that correctly. This boy cannot donate his eye because it is assumed that he was sexually active.

Frankly, I'm shocked that he was able to successfully donate his other organs.

I'm at the point in my life where I'm largely over the FDA's rejection of donated blood and organs from gay men. When I think about it too much, it irks me that I cannot donate blood or plasma -- despite being sexually monogamous for over 20 years and despite actually knowing my HIV status. They all just assume that I am lying about my HIV status or that I'm too stupid to know my status.

My church once hosted a blood drive. This was back when I was the receptionist. The pastor tried to get me to donate my blood and I told him that they won't accept it because they assume I'm HIV-positive. He confirmed this with them and then got all indignant and was going to rally some sort of protest.

But nothing changed. There is no desire by the federal government or by the FDA to re-look at the universal blood ban by gay men. I mean, it's not that they don't already test their donated blood. And it's not like they don't allow heterosexuals who have slept with an HIV-positive person to donate after a year.

But I'm assumed to be too diseased to donate after 20 years of gay monogamy.

So I try not to think about it too much.

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