It’s in you to keep
Article: Michael Chmielewski – Op-Ed Editor
The deferral period for blood donation for men who have sex with men has changed from indefinite to five years
On the radio, I hear the Canadian Blood Services is always in need of more donors. I used to be a donor, until I stopped on principle.
There’s a blood ban. If you are a gay man in Canada, you cannot donate your blood to save people’s lives. Canadian Blood Services doesn’t want it. Dana Devine, who is the vice president of medical, scientific and research affairs, said in a CBC article that “we don’t have sufficient evidence to be able to convince either Health Canada, frankly, [or] the recipients of blood products, that that’s a safe thing to do at the moment.” Imagine, a car crash victim lays in a hospital somewhere, in need of blood. It’s a bleak situation, but I wager, if it came down to a life or death situation, that victim would not care of the donor’s sexual orientation. In a non-hypothetical situation, after people are given blood donations, are they told who the blood came from? I don’t think so.
Furthermore, blood is blood. The blood of a responsible gay man is the same as the blood of anyone else who makes healthy decisions in their lives. The same standards for donating blood should apply to everyone, equally. Judging from Canadian Blood Services’ ban, a heterosexual person’s blood is better than a homosexual person’s. This is only based on sexual orientation, not scientific data. It’s as if their blood is not compatible with heterosexual people.
There is nothing scientific about Canadian Blood Services’ ban, there’s no evidence. Rather, it is based on archaic stereotypes of gay people that are absolutely false.
Lately, on the Canadian Blood Services’ website, they reported that “Canadian Blood Services has received approval from Health Canada to reduce the current men who have sex with men (MSM) deferral period from indefinite to five years from last MSM activity.”
Health Canada should wake up to the twenty-first century. Canadian Blood Services should lobby harder to Health Canada to allow people of all sexual orientations to donate.
What are some other reasons for rejecting a donor’s blood? If they are not in good health, too old, too skinny, if they have been in certain places at certain times, intravenous drug use, and also, diseases such as Hepatitis, HIV etc. These conditions are found in all people: straight men, gay men, small men, big men, straight women, gay women, small women, big men and any other combination one can think of.
If gay men were allowed to donate blood, absolutely nothing would change except for the amount of donations. There would be no increase in anything negative, whatsoever, and it is time this was realized.
In fact, Canadian Blood Services’ opinion should not be valued so highly. This is the same organization that, for 12 months in Regina, had improper screening procedures that led to a recall of 12 months of blood. All the donations I’ve ever made in my life happened in that one year period. The problem was that screening questions may not have been asked all the time, especially to regulars.
Once Canadian Blood Services becomes a responsible, and inclusive organization, I will donate blood again. Until then, I personally will not donate my blood to an institution that discriminates so wholeheartedly in the face of all reason. They obviously don’t need it.