Canada bans organ donation from gay men

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Men who have sex with men in the last five years of their life will no longer be accepted as organ donors under new rules from Health Canada.

Families will also be interviewed about potential donors’ exposure in increased risk, such as travel or time spent in jail, under new rules that came into force in December.

Gary Levy, head of Toronto University’s transplant programme, told CBC News that he had not been informed about the new rules.

He estimated that seven out of every 100 potential donors could be excluded.

“In the past, the gay community was considered a high-risk community because of perception of high-risk behaviour,” he said yesterday, according to the Toronto Sun.

“We now know it’s not a homogeneous community.

“The fact is, if someone has 62 partners, whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual, there still is a risk. That community was singled out. I think that’s unfortunate.”

Health Canada released a statement yesterday claiming that “no group or association expressed concerns” during wide-ranging consultations on the new rules.

Dr Philip Berger, head of family and community medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, told the Star:

“What about a gay monogamous couple, (Health Canada) is not going to let them donate? It’s ridiculous.

“It’s been known for 20 years that the risk factor is not in being gay (but) in risky sexual behaviour.”

An estimated 4,000 Canadians are on the waiting list for organ transplants.