June 30, 2023

Happy Pride Month: Never Count Yourself Out

Written by: Adriana Connelly
As Pride Month comes to an end, we would like to share common myths and misconceptions related to donation. Many members of the LGBTQ+ community think they are not eligible to be an organ donor. This is commonly misunderstood, but the truth is that anyone can register to be a heroic donor and give the ultimate gift. An individual’s gender, gender expression or identity and sexual orientation does not prevent them from being an organ donor (deceased or living). Ultimately, the decision to be a heroic donor is a noble and selfless final legacy to leave behind.  

The most frequent question that gets brought up is regarding sexually active gay men or others who may have been told they cannot donate blood products due to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) blood donation restrictions. On May 11, 2023, the FDA issued final guidance regarding an individual donor assessment for all blood donors regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The criteria used to determine which organs can be donated is based on a person’s medical condition at the time of their passing and is not the same criteria used to determine who can donate blood.  

Here are three facts to keep in mind: 
  • Tissue donation (bone, corneas, heart valves, skin, veins, etc.) is regulated by the FDA just like blood donation. 
  • The FDA currently has a policy which could prevent a man who has been sexually active with another man in the past 12 months from donating their tissues.  
  • Organ donation is not regulated by the FDA, it is regulated by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Their guidelines do not prevent a man who has had sex with men from donating his organs. 

At the same time, an individual’s gender, gender expression or identity and sexual orientation has no determination over whether they are able to receive an organ transplant. Anyone can receive an organ transplant who has been evaluated by a transplant center and determined to be fit to go through the transplantation process. In 2013, President Obama signed into law the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act which allows for HIV-to-HIV organ transplantation. At the beginning of the decade, nearly 200 people living with HIV had received lifesaving organ transplants from heroic donors who also had or have HIV because of the HOPE Act. It not only allows deceased donors who had been living with HIV to give the ultimate gift through organ donation, it is now possible for people living with HIV to donate one of their kidneys or a portion of their liver as a living donor. These gifts of life can be given to patients on the national organ transplant waiting list who are also living with HIV. In addition to this, medical advancements have been made to increase the number of eligible organ donors by allowing people living with Hepatitis B or C to save lives through donation.  

Pride 2023 Blog

We hope after learning all of these facts, you are ready to share the gift of life with others. Become a hero today