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View Full Version : Are gay men allowed to donate organs?


alphaboi867
11-13-2007, 11:05 PM
Are we? We're not allowed to give blood (or more specifically any man who's had sex with another man since 1977 can't give blood). I'm registered as an organ donor, but when that time comes do the doctors start asking my next of kin questions like "Has he had sex with another man?" Why would organ donations be allowed when blood donations aren't?

Otto
11-14-2007, 12:20 AM
I know I've donated my organ...oh wait, you mean...

Short answer, no (http://qsaltlake.com/2004/5/feature.shtml).

In May (2005), the FDA established new rules requiring reproductive tissues like semen and ova to be tested for such diseases as HIV, hepatitis B and C, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and new diseases like west nile virus and SARS — diseases other tissues, such as musculoskeletal, eye and skin tissues, are tested for.

But the law also established new criteria for who can donate tissue in the first place. Under the new rules, intravenous drug users and men who have had sex with other men in the last five years cannot legally be tissue donors — due, presumably, to this population’s statistically high risk for contracting HIV.

Otto
11-14-2007, 12:27 AM
From the FDA's website (http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2005/305_tissue.html)
The FDA's rules do not cover certain bone marrow or whole organs for transplant. These are managed under separate programs in the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The FDA's donor eligibility rule requires that tissues for transplant come from an eligible donor, based on the results of screening for risk factors and testing for certain diseases. This is an extensive process that involves examining the body, testing for disease-causing agents, interviewing the donor's family or other close contacts, and conducting multiple reviews of a donor's medical records, lab test results, coroner and autopsy reports, and other relevant records.

Finalized in May 2004, the rule takes effect on May 25, 2005. In addition to screening and testing for HIV and hepatitis, as was done under an earlier regulation, the new regulation requires screening for diseases such as syphilis, West Nile virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and the neurological condition Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

No lab tests are currently available to test for West Nile virus, SARS, and CJD. To identify a potential risk for these diseases, a tissue bank representative interviews the family of the deceased donor. Interviewers at Donor Alliance typically have social work or psychology backgrounds, says Mansfield, and they ask about 50 questions to gain extensive information about the donor's medical and lifestyle history that may signal a risk, including sexual practices, injectable drug use, and travel history. Donors who lived in Britain, for example, at the height of the "mad cow" epidemic are excluded from donating because they are considered at risk for the human form of mad cow disease, variant CJD.

To further protect transplant recipients, the donor eligibility rule builds in flexibility for the FDA to require screening for new disease threats as they emerge and reliable tests become available.

Donor tissue cannot be released for use until all screening and testing processes are completed and medical experts review and evaluate the results. An exception may be made in the event of an urgent medical need where no suitable tissue is available and the recipient is likely to become gravely ill or die without the tissue.

Any donor found to have infected tissue or found to be at risk for infection is considered ineligible, and, with rare exceptions, all tissue from that donor is destroyed or used only for research or educational purposes.
poked around a bit looking for HRSA and HHS guidelines for whole organ donation but only found generic "don't rule yourself out, a medical professional will evaluate you" talk.

Bryan Ekers
11-14-2007, 12:28 AM
I know I've donated my organ...More of a short-term loan, wasn't it?

Otto
11-14-2007, 08:37 AM
More of a short-term loan, wasn't it?
Ain't nothin' short about it baby.

Malacandra
11-14-2007, 10:03 AM
Ain't nothin' short about it baby.

Sez you.

I am so not seeking further enlightenment on this subject.

Cluricaun
11-14-2007, 10:15 AM
There was a story on the news (http://www.myfoxchicago.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=4924220&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=3.5.1) last night about four people who've contracted HIV from organ transplants. Apparently the donor had recently contracted it himself and therefore wasn't showing any of the antibodies for them to pick up in the test.

They mentioned something about the donor being engaged in "high risk behavior" but didn't mention if he was a homosexual, a heroin addict, or just liked satanic blood rituals.

WARNING- link goes to crappy local Fox news video featuring the ever annoying Margaret Shortridge.

Ike Witt
11-14-2007, 11:21 AM
There was a story on the news (http://www.myfoxchicago.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=4924220&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=3.5.1) last night about four people who've contracted HIV from organ transplants. Apparently the donor had recently contracted it himself and therefore wasn't showing any of the antibodies for them to pick up in the test.
I heard this story this morning. It seems that Hep C was transfered as well, and it was also missed in the screening process.

Dr. Drake
11-14-2007, 11:43 AM
A related question: how, exactly, do they determine that gays are a high-risk group? Is it percentage of gay people with HIV, or percentage of people with HIV who have had gay sex? The former seems more reliable than the latter in determining risk in the donor pool, but the site I give below indicates that in men, at least, the authorities are more concerned with means of transmission than the group as a whole.

I'm curious about the logic behind this whole thing. I note from this website (http://www.avert.org/statsum.htm) that blacks are disproportionately affected, and yet that group is not prevented from donating. Nor should they be, of course. But it does seem to indicate that the restriction on gay blood / organ donors isn't strictly a statistical matter.

I also note that while they have lots of statistics available on race, my weak google-fu could not find any comparable statistics on the percentage of gays with HIV, presumably because there is more data that identifies Americans, at least, by race than by sexual orientation.

hajario
11-14-2007, 01:04 PM
This is just crazy.

My girlfriend had a liver transplant a year and a half ago and, obviously, it saved her life. Only around 10% of the people who need livers to survive ultimately get one. To exclude a significant portion of the population is insane, especially now that reliable testing is available.

boytyperanma
11-14-2007, 05:15 PM
A related question: how, exactly, do they determine that gays are a high-risk group? Is it percentage of gay people with HIV, or percentage of people with HIV who have had gay sex? The former seems more reliable than the latter in determining risk in the donor pool, but the site I give below indicates that in men, at least, the authorities are more concerned with means of transmission than the group as a whole.

They rely on older statistics established in the 80's is my humble opinion.

But this is general questions.

Men who participate in unprotected anal sex with HIV positive men have the highest rates of contracting the virus.

There is a higher percentage of gay men who are known to have HIV then their heterosexual counterparts. Which does not necessarily mean a higher percentage of gay men have HIV. Gay men by leaps and bounds more regularly have themselves screened for STD's then the rest of the population. So if a gay man has an STD he is more likely to know about it and it is more likely for their HIV status to be known to HIV percentage studies.

Personally I'd rather get an organ donated from a person gay or heterosexual that has a history of screens for STD's then someone who is willfully ignorant of there STD status throughout their life.

Should I ever find myself needing an organ I'd be happy to take anything available even if it puts me at high risk of contracting HIV.

yelimS
11-14-2007, 05:34 PM
Should I ever find myself needing an organ I'd be happy to take anything available even if it puts me at high risk of contracting HIV.

You could always put others at risk of contracting HIV, too. Not a strong argument against donation, it seems, but it could be something to consider.

Enright3
11-14-2007, 07:18 PM
Wow, what's it say about me that I read the title as:
Are gay men allowed to donate orgasms?

jackdavinci
11-15-2007, 01:06 AM
I'm curious about the logic behind this whole thing. I note from this website (http://www.avert.org/statsum.htm) that blacks are disproportionately affected, and yet that group is not prevented from donating. Nor should they be, of course. But it does seem to indicate that the restriction on gay blood / organ donors isn't strictly a statistical matter.

True. There used to be a racial group also barred from giving blood (I think it might be Haitians) but of course there was an uproar. The truth is, it's a stupid bigoted policy, but there's just not as much outrage when it comes to homophobic bigotry as there is when it comes to racial bigotry.

boytyperanma
11-15-2007, 02:13 AM
Wow, what's it say about me that I read the title as:
Are gay men allowed to donate orgasms?

Only to willing recipients. Sperms banks aren't allowed to take them.

panache45
11-15-2007, 04:27 AM
Well, this raises another issue. When you get your driver's license renewed, they ask whether you want to be an organ donor. You say sure, and they put in on your license. They don't ask you whether you're gay; at least I've never been asked. Then one day, your head is crushed in a traffic accident, and your organs become available. Still, nobody knows whether you're gay. So at what point does this screening take place?

Hari Seldon
11-15-2007, 06:53 AM
I don't think much screening actually takes place. First, organs have to be used fast, before they have much chance of screening. Second, there are dire shortages of organs, while there is a relatively plentiful supply of blood.

That said, the automatic exclusion of gays (ok, active gays) is stupid. I know a gay who has been in a stable relationship for 25 years. Neither he nor his partner is HIV positive, but they won't take blood from either of them. Now you might argue that I don't know if they also screw around outside their relationship and that is true, but equally true of any random hetero. The fact that in 25 years, neither of them has gotten infected suggests otherwise. But a mindless policy is easier to enforce than one that requires judgment.