Sexually active gay men no longer allowed to donate organs
Last Updated: Monday, January 7, 2008 | 10:08 PM ET
A number of organ donation groups said Monday that they are unaware of new Health Canada regulations that mean sexually active gay men, injection drug users and other groups considered high risk will no longer be accepted as organ donors.
The new rules, which came into effect in December, are similar to the regulations for determining who can donate blood. Those rules exclude groups that are at high risk of transmitting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C and B.
Dr. Gary Levy, who heads Canada's largest organ transplant program at Toronto's University Health Network, said he was unaware of the new policy on organ donations. Officials at several transplant programs in the country said because they were unaware of the new regulations, they would continue to consider all potential donor organs.
"We have not been informed, first of all, that Health Canada is considering this," said Dr. Gary Levy, who heads Canada's largest organ transplant program at Toronto's University Health Network. "Obviously if Health Canada wishes to discuss that, we would hope they would engage all stakeholders."
Dr. Peter Nickerson, director of Transplant Manitoba, which procures organs in that province, said transplant programs must now by law interview family members of the donor as part of the screening process.
"We'll be asking about things like travel, history of infectious disease, whether they've [donors] been in jail — that puts you at increased risk," Nickerson said. "Have they been an IV drug abuser in the past? Have they had tattoos? There's a whole list of questions we go through."
They are also asked about the donor's sexual orientation. The donor will be excluded if the donor is a man who had sex with another man in the previous five years.
Health Canada had contracted the Canadian Standards Association in 2003 to come up with standardized guidelines to ensure the safety of the organ donation system.
Transplant programs have been screening potential donors, but in some cases use organs from people in high-risk groups if they've tested negative for diseases. The new legislation means that practice must stop.
A spokeswoman for Health Canada confirmed the new regulations in an e-mail, but the department didn't make anyone available to explain the changes.
Focus should be on behaviour: gay activist
Levy said organ donors shouldn't be held to the same high standards as blood donors because the stakes for the organ recipient are higher.
"Organ donation and the opportunity to save a life at a specific time — we have no substitute therapies," Levy said.
Levy estimates that out of 100 organ donors at his Toronto hospital every year, about seven will be rejected because of the new regulations. About 4,000 Canadians are waiting for an organ transplant.
Some in the gay community complained that the new policy is wrong-headed and that Health Canada should focus on risky sexual behaviours, not sexual orientation.
"I think it's more of an issue of anal sex, anal intercourse, than it is to do with whether someone is gay or straight," said Dean Robinson, a gay activist.
Oh boy - as if there wasn't enough of an Conservative initiative to alienate gays. It appears some people are prepared to let people die to further a ridiculous cause. And to those of you who talk about statistical risks, blah, blah, blah -- I'd just like to say that Canadian Blood Services screens ALL blood that comes through it's doors, and the Organ Donor process is not akin to drawing lottery numbers, okay? There is a concerted effort to marginalize gays in subversive ways as much as these initiatives were mandated in the 1950s.
...and my blood and organs AREN'T as good or better than most peoples in this country? Give me a break. Oh well, your loss. Fuck you.
There's lots of good dialog on this here and here.
From Montreal Simon:
First they don't want my perfectly healthy gay blood.
Now they don't want my perfectly healthy gay organs.
Not that I was in any hurry to donate my heart, my eyes and my kidneys. But it does seem a bit unfair.
Why should others be judged by their behaviour....while we're judged by who we are?
Even if we're monogamous. Or practice safe sex. Or are as healthy as anybody else...or healthier.
Even if all blood donations are TESTED.
And what about all those people waiting desperately for scarce organs? Don't they count?
In a society still poisoned by homophobia it's hard to tell where science and public safety end... and ignorance and prejudice begin.
But this seems like just another attempt by Stephen Harper's Con government to please the religious wingnuts.... who believe that ALL gay people are diseased.
And are prepared to do ANYTHING....even make sick Canadians suffer and maybe even die....to advance their crazy cause.
But hey...I'm not about to let these freaks get me down. If they hate me so much they won't even allow me to save another human's life ....they are not diminishing me... they are diminishing themselves. It's THEIR problem not mine.
Why should I beg for other people's lives? When I don't beg for ANYTHING. Why should I even take these quacks seriously? When they tell me my body is toxic...but I KNOW it's not.
And all I'll say is that SOMEBODY is REALLY going to pay for this!!!!!
Yup. You see I'm such a good citizen I not only wanted to donate my dreamy eyes, my brave heart, and my sturdy kidneys.
I was also prepared to make the ULTIMATE sacrifice. And donate my humungous cock to some guy... gay OR straight.... who was lucky enough to win the BIG draw.
But now I CAN'T.
Isn't senseless discrimination absurd? I'm even more alienated.... but RELIEVED.
The old wingnuts could end up dying from the gay blood or gay organs they DIDN'T receive.
And the poor boys will be soooooo DISAPPOINTED...