August 15, 2014 8:11 am -

[su_right_ad]Alexander Betts attempted suicide in July, 2013, and died soon after. He wanted to be an organ donor. While is heart went to a 14-year-old, his eyes were rejected.

A Food and Drug Administration’s guidance for donor eligibility says men who have had sex with men in the past five years “should” be ruled as “ineligible” for donating certain tissues, labeling their behavior a “risk factor.”
In a 2013 photograph Sheryl Moore plans to fight bullying, which she says contributed to the suicide of her son Alexander Betts Jr. Moore has not left her late son’s side as his body remains on life support at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines until his organs can be gifted out.

“My initial feeling was just very angry because I couldn’t understand why my 16-year-old son’s eyes couldn’t be donated just because he was gay,” [his mother Sheryl] Moore said, according to KCCI…

The FDA’s guidance reflects its ban on blood from men who have sex with men. That policy is a by-product of the AIDS crisis that ripped through the gay men’s community decades ago.Critics have long called the policy discriminatory, but the FDA says it’s necessary: “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.”

The American Medical Association ended the ban last year. But there isn’t an across-the-board ban.

In Betts’s case, his liver, lungs, kidneys and heart all found recipients. Unlike blood, as long as a recipient gives consent to any associated potential risks (such as HIV transmission) after counseling, certain organs can be donated. But because his mother could not confirm to the donor network that her son hadn’t been sexually active in the five years before his death, Betts’s eyes were rejected.

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

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

6 responses to Gay Teen’s Organ Donation Rejected

  1. Tommy6860 August 15th, 2014 at 8:32 am

    :'( This is sad. Horrible in what he went through that drove him to suicide, another that a wonderful life that can still contribute is refused through archaic fears of HIV.

  2. JeffreyPtr August 15th, 2014 at 10:06 am

    The “life-saving assistance” one could get from donated eyes isn’t much good if it leads to a severe medical problem for the recipient. This isn’t about her son, he is unfortunately gone and beyond caring about any desires he had in life. This is about the safety of recipient.

    • Dwendt44 August 15th, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      Or maybe it should be up to the recipient to reject or accept the organ.
      In the case of eyes, there’s little chance of any disease from ‘possible’ or ‘imaginary’ sexual contact.

      • JeffreyPtr August 15th, 2014 at 12:58 pm

        At present we don’t let lay people set medical policy for themselves. Decisions are made based on the science, not the emotion of those closest to the problem. I don’t see the wisdom in turning these decisions over to the intended recipient and certainly not for eyes. They are perhaps a life changing organ, but not likely to be life-saving.

    • Cassie August 15th, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      fears like this are archaic and illogical.

      • JeffreyPtr August 15th, 2014 at 4:45 pm

        That may or may not be true. I personally don’t know the science behind the restrictions. The regulation exists, I would assume it’s there for a reason because organs are in short supply and the FDA gets no benefit from withholding them.

        If there is anyone acting illogically, it would be the mother, and that is understandable. She’s lost her son and is fixated on his last wish. She seems unreasonably upset that the eyes were not accepted. Perhaps if she could focus instead on the good his other organs did then she’d be able to move on.