Teen’s tissue donation denied because he was gay

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DES MOINES, Iowa – A mother in Iowa was devastated to learn that her deceased son’s eye donation was rejected, all because he was gay.

It’s a decision that has many questioning whether current regulations are out of date.

The most precious letter she’ll ever receive, tells Sheryl Moore what became of her son’s kidneys, liver, heart and lungs.

“I was very happy to hear that a 14-year-old boy got his heart. He would have really liked that,” Moore said.

But she couldn’t help but feel the letter was incomplete.

After years of bullying, Sheryl’s son committed suicide.

“My initial feeling was just very angry because I couldn’t understand why my 16-year-old son’s eye couldn’t be donated just because he was gay,” Moore said.

His eyes were rejected because of FDA regulation.

It came about decades ago, at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

It makes would-be donors ineligible to donate certain tissue, if they’re believed to have a “risk factor.”

“They asked me if my son was sexually active and my response was something to the effect of ‘No.’ He’d never had a boyfriend. I’d never known of him going out on a date but then I was like, ‘I don’t know. He’s 16 years old,’” Moore said.

With that, the donor network had to assume he’d been sexually active in the last five years and thereby ineligible to donate his tissue or eyes.

The exclusion is not limited to certain tissue donations.

Gay men are also banned for life from donating blood.

It’s a regulation many say needs to be updated.

“This is archaic and it is just silly that people wouldn’t get the life-saving assistance they need because of regulations that are 30 years old,” Moore said.

Recently, national medical organizations have publicly stated their opposition to the current FDA law.

Moore hopes AJ’s story will help more people see why.


  • Desert Pete

    So somebody doesn’t like a FDA law because she doesn’t think it’s politically correct. If there isn’t a sound medical reason for this law have it changed. Anybody who exhibits $exual risky behavior should be banned from donating blood or organs.

    Why risk the lives of patients in the name of political correctness?

    • dave

      well pete i think your right, i too would like the numbers showing the risk factors im hoping the ban is based on sound numbers rather than peoples emotions on the subject, and if not than it needs to be changed.

      • the loud majority

        Your friends dad was a homosexual then, because god only punishes those sinners with the aids virus…he lied about the transfusion in order to hide his sin!

      • dave

        …wait “the loud majority” im confused who said anything about a friends dad. i didnt… did your comment get misplaced? if not than i dont know what to do with what you said

  • Adrienne

    With all the technology we have today, Its sad to see that organ go to waste when it was given to save/better a life. How is it that we cannot test for a disease. He was young boy, not a seasoned adult. The risk was not that high. I do see the caution with a sexually active adult but not when children are involved. Its really sad.

    • Desert Pete

      You say the risk was not high. What is an acceptable level of risk? My neighbor’s father was a hemophiliac and acquired the AIDS virus after one of his transfusions. It cost him his life.

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