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Teen's organ donation denied because he was gay

Teen's Organ Donation Denied Because He Was Gay

A 16-year-old Iowa boy who took his own life had signed up to be an organ donor just six months before he died.

"Even in his death AJ is continuing to give," AJ Betts' mother Sheryl Moore said shortly after his death. "And so I've been in a hospital room with my son for almost three days now he's been dead ... he's on a bunch of machines being pumped full a bunch of medicines to get his organs healthy to give to numerous other people."

According to AJ Betts' family, he was horribly bullied at school for being mixed race - black and white, for having had a cleft lip and for his sexual orientation after he was outed as gay.

His mother said even though he faced relentless bullying, AJ to want to help others. Soon after his death last month, she received a letter saying what had become of her son's organs - and as it turned out, AJ's wish was not fully granted.

Although his heart and other organs were able to save lives, AJ's eyes were rejected because he was gay.

That's due to this Food And Drug Administration regulation, created decades ago. It says any donor believed to have a risk for communicable diseases, like HIV, can not donate his or her eyes along with other tissue, specially pointing to men who have sex with other men.

Moore could not confirm whether AJ was sexually active, so he was deemed ineligible. But the ban doesn't just stop at tissues.

"Gay men are banned for life from donating blood. She believes it's a regulation that needs updating. The FDA does allow donations from heterosexuals who have slept with an HIV positive person ... after one year. ... experts says that's a contradiction."

"We think it's time for the FDA to take a serious look at its policy," Glenn Cohen, a director at Harvard Law School, told HealthDay. "Because it's out of step with peer countries, it's out of step with modern medicine, it's out of step with public opinion, and we feel it may be legally problematic."

This is how the FDA explains its regulation. "FDA's deferral policy is based on the documented increased risk of certain transfusion transmissible infections, such as HIV, associated with male-to-male sex and is not based on any judgment concerning the donor's sexual orientation."

But there are efforts to try and change that policy by various medical groups who say the FDA's policy is discriminatory.

AJ's mother says she had hopes of again one day looking into the eyes of her son and calls the regulations "archaic."

Donor Network Denies Gay Teen's Tissue Donation in Iowa

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Mike August 17 2014 at 5:27 AM

Bullied in life. Bullied in death. How horrible and hateful.

Flag Reply +50 rate up
5 replies
turquoise1937 August 17 2014 at 6:57 AM

Good grief! Wouldn't anyone rather be alive with the heart, kidneys or liver of a gay person than dead for the lack of a working organ? Get a life, people!
My grandson donated all of his organs when he died in an auto accident at age 19. We know and are quite fond of the woman who received his heart. A person's sexuality should not enter into it.

Flag Reply +43 rate up
11 replies
IBruzEZ August 17 2014 at 7:41 AM

We have tests now that can screen for many diseases so there is no reason not to change these old rules.

Flag Reply +31 rate up
4 replies
The Canoli King August 17 2014 at 6:32 AM

This saddens me. I hope this kid rests in peace. I hope there will be some sort of closure for his Mom. Her son had a short life,and how his peers treated him during his time on earth is appalling.

Flag Reply +28 rate up
gcanning775 August 17 2014 at 8:25 AM

my ex recieved blood that had been screened...it was tainted. she has now passed on.sorry... i would not want any part that might be bad if that makes me a bad person tough s#&%!

Flag Reply +25 rate up
4 replies
bbhuey4213 August 17 2014 at 8:28 AM

Seems like rather than singling out gays - especially since a straight person who has sex with someone who's HIV positive can still be a donor - is to step up screening of the organs from all donors.

They're always going on about the lack of organ donors, yet they're willing to turn people away without even screening them solely based on sexual orientation. Either allow all people willing to be donors based upon their healthy organs and compatibility or stop kvetching about not having enough donors...

Flag Reply +24 rate up
3 replies
yellowrose92 August 17 2014 at 7:45 AM

Very Very horrible and hateful. So Sad what is worng with this ?
God Bless The Family ((( HUGS )))

Flag Reply +20 rate up
4 replies
boogiewiz August 17 2014 at 1:10 PM

Add a comment...This is a story the media wrote just to incite trouble... All the organs were donated and used with the exeption of the eyes. And that is due to infections... The header makes it sound like everything was denied, which is a outright LIE!!! If you can't get a story, lets not make one up..

Flag Reply +13 rate up
2 replies
d1anaw boogiewiz August 17 2014 at 1:29 PM

It wasn't due to infections. It was presumed that there MIGHT be infections solely based on his sexual orientation and nothing more. And that is called bigotry.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
2 replies
SUNFLOWERgirl d1anaw August 17 2014 at 7:00 PM

Not bigotry. Truth. Sorry if the truth hurts, but telling the TRUTH does not equal bigotry. Gay people are MORE LIKELY to have HIV and the infections that come with it! What part of that is bigotry?

Flag 0 rate up
kmcc895370 d1anaw August 17 2014 at 8:54 PM

NO, it is called bring safe rather than sorry since gay people were the first to spread this disease. You shouldn't make a health issue into a political issue and if saying this makes me a bigot, so be it. I could care less.

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Blessed One X 20 boogiewiz August 17 2014 at 10:36 PM

I must agree about the headline. It does sound like all were rejected.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Cher August 17 2014 at 6:18 AM

I'm not sure what the possibilities are here, but given a choice if I was on the receiving end, I'd rather be safe than sorry. We are not out of the weeds yet with this horrible disease, and it is better IMHO to proceed slowly before making changes. Could you imagine the lawsuits involved if they gave them eyes that then killed them, and they would then say, you knew the risk was there when you did the transplant. They could at least change the law to read that the recipient has the right to make the choice and would have to sign a waiver before receiving the organ.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
4 replies
ddqny2000 August 17 2014 at 8:44 AM

Why would any gay person want to donate his organs? I sure wouldn't, even if there was a slight possibility that the recipient would be homophobic. Gays are too nice nowadays.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
7 replies
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