Donor network denies gay teen’s tissue donation

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It’s a decision that has many questioning whether current regulations are out of date.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

Now, 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.


  • Go Tides!

    Who wants to live the rest of their life known as “rainbow eyeballs”, “closet eyes”, or “AIDS vision”? Gayness has negative consequences.

    • pamela sandy

      I don’t care who eyes they are if it gives someone a chance to see then do it…..ppl ain’t God …..and your comment is dumb as hell

  • Mitch

    Give the recipient the choice if they want to risk receiving a possibly infected organ or tissue from an individual who lived a risky lifestyle. This is not a rash we are talking about. This is a disease that compounded with immune suppressant drugs becomes all the more deadly.
    Desperation sometimes makes people more willing to take the risk, but the choice should be made by the one who will be sickened if the gamble is lost. Hurt feelings of loved ones be damned. After all, disease of the cornea is very seldom (if ever) life threatening. HIV is.
    First, do no harm.

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