Gay son prevented from donating blood to dying mother

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A gay man whose mother died from cancer is calling for a change in the law after he was prevented from donating blood to help her.

Dij Bentley’s mother Christine, 47, died from acute myeloid leukaemia in August last year.

Prior to her death, she had developed an infection and needed a blood transfusion.

Friends and family members were asked to give blood to see if they were a match for her. Although Bentley did not know whether he was a match, he was prevented from donating under rules which bar men who have had with another man from giving blood.

She died ten days after developing an infection in her brain on August 14th.

Bentley, a 21-year-old student, told the Herald he had tried to give blood aged 17 but was told by a nurse he could not.

He said: “My eyes have been opened to this since my mum died. Maybe gay men do have a right to give blood if they want to. Certainly for me, who was in a monogamous relationship, I think it would have been acceptable in these circumstances.”

Both the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service and the National Blood Service (England and Wales) bar gay and bisexual men from donating blood for life.

People who have injected drugs, prostitutes and those who have ever had syphilis, hepatitis B or hepatitis C are also excluded.

Last month, Sweden lifted the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. It announced on World AIDS Day that a 12-month ban would instead be implemented for anyone having “risky” sex, which includes gay sex. The change will come into force on March 1st.

A number of groups such as National AIDS Trust, Stonewall and the Anthony Nolan Trust have all previously supported the UK lifetime ban but are now against it.

The government’s Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) is currently undertaking a review of whether the comprehensive ban should remain. It is expected to report back this year.