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Saturday 10 October 2009

Canada: A ban on organ donations from gay men

Posted in: Living Well
By Craig Young - 17th February 2009

While Britain and New Zealand are debating whether or not to allow conscientious, safe-sex oriented gay men to donate blood, Canada has recently banned gay men from organ donations.

On Canadian gay website Xtra, Krishna Rau reports that since Health Canada instituted a stricter regime on gay men who donate organs for the benefit of needy transplant recipients, there was a reduction of available donated organs for transplant in Ontario over the last year. Health Canada now prevents any man who has had sex with men for the last five years from organ donation, and instituted this policy in December 2007.

Gary Levy, Director of Toronto's University Health transplant programme, said that there was no good medical reason for excluding gay men who wanted to benefit others through donation of transplanted organs. He clarified that IV drug use and age might disqualify potential organ donors. However, LGBT rights organisations suggested that it was homophobia from the Canadian Blood Service, which has taken over the organ transplant adminstrative process which is to blame for the loss of potential gay donors who want to help people in need.

As for the issue of HIV/AIDS risk, Joshua Ferguson of Standing Against Queer Discrimination (SAQD) made this comment:

"The MSM policy is now being regulated by the same source that is unwilling to change an outdated, stagnant policy based on ideologically founded fears rather than current epidemiological evidence," he stated in an email to Xtra.

"The organ and blood donation policies are now imbricated in political and public relation reasons rather than ethical and epidemiological ones," he states.

SAQD argues that policies should focus on risk rather than sexual orientation.

"A general consensus from the meeting is that the MSM permanent deferrals need to focus on behavioural-based questions that would articulate the actual risky sexual behaviours that actually places someone at a higher risk, regardless of their sex and/or sexual orientation," he writes.

Sounds like a good idea.

Craig Young - 17th February 2009

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