There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my best friend. He is a part of my family, and despite the fact that we are incredibly different (people who see us call us “Oscar and Felix”) or the fact that he tried to get me expelled in high school for t.p-ing his car, keeping him alive is my responsibility.
Rejecting the Gays
My best friend needs a new bone marrow. Due to having aplastic anemia, a rare and potentially fatal disease, he has limited defenses to infections and has been getting weekly blood transfusions just to stay alive.
Upon hearing the news that his health has not improved and he does in fact need a new bone marrow (it’s been in the realm of possibilities for awhile now), I cried a little bit. Drank a little. And then promptly looked into how I can go about donating my bone marrow to him. Or at least get tested to see if we’re a match.
Apparently, it’s not that simple.
I’ve known for some time now that under federal law, men who have had sex with other men are not permitted to donate blood. It’s a law that was written in the 1970’s during the AIDS epidemic that took so many lives. The law baring my ability to donate blood was a problem when I worked at a library and they were doing an employee blood drive. I was forced to opt-out of it and I felt bad when our library branch didn’t win the pizza party. I even wrote a blog post about it two years ago.
What I didn’t know then, was that the same law that prohibits gay men from donating blood, also prohibits us from being donors to really anything.
In July of 2013 a gay boy died of an apparent suicide. He was the victim of bullying and his mom wanted some good to come out of her son’s death. She attempted to donate his eyes, and they were rejected because, as the Washington Post explains the, “Food and Drug Administration’s guidance for donor eligibility says men who have had sex with men in the past five years ‘should’ be ruled as ‘ineligible’ for donating certain tissues, labeling their behavior a ‘risk factor.’”
While I understand the United States government wanting to protect people from HIV, I don’t understand why, in this day and age, with rapid HIV test, even at home tests, why we cannot test a person prior to accepting their donations.
Having gay sex is not a crime. Sodomy laws have been struck down nationwide, and even the ban, barring HIV-positive individuals from entering the country, has been lifted. What hasn’t been lifted is my right to donate bone marrow to my friend.