I could save someone’s life by telling a lie.
All I have to do is say “No” to one little question about whether I’ve had sex with another man, and I’d be able to donate blood or bone marrow and potentially keep some stranger from dying. If I answer honestly, I’ll be placed on a lifetime deferral list which prevents me from trying again in the future.
Due to a ban enacted in 1985 by the US Food and Drug Administration, any male that has had sex with another male since 1977 is prohibited from donating blood or bone marrow. The argument is that these men are at a much higher risk of contracting HIV and pose a hazard to potential recipients.
This policy is blatantly homophobic, since donated blood is automatically screened for HIV and other pathogens. The sexuality of the donor should never even come into play. After all, how is it possible that a monogamous homosexual is more of a health threat than a promiscuous heterosexual? Regardless of the insanity of the provision, it was upheld when it came up for review in May of this year.
After hearing of a recent bone marrow drive in a nearby city, I did some research online and learned that 70% of patients that need bone marrow transplants die before ever finding a match. Guess what happens when a gay man offers to donate a rare blood type:
The patient in need would continue to wait for another suitable match, risking death. Unfortunately, the patient is not informed if a gay donor has been found and does not have the opportunity to decide if they are willing to accept the health risk. (Source)
As opposed as I am to lying, I realize that doing so could enable something very important. I’m just not sure it’s worth denying a huge part of myself simply because my government doesn’t think my blood is good enough to help a dying person. It seems that I would be giving away much more than the “gift of life.”