US: Deceased teen’s tissue donation rejected because he was gay

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A deceased teen’s organs have been partially rejected for donation because he was gay.

Sixteen-year-old A.J. Betts from Iowa committed suicide about a year ago after experiencing severe bullying.

Months before his death, he had volunteered to become an organ and tissue donor.

A Food and Drug Administration policy prohibiting men who have sex with men from donating certain tissue, however, barred some of Betts’ tissue from being donated.

Betts’ mother, Sheryl Moore, only learned her son’s tissue had not been donated after receiving a letter detailing the status of the donation.

Betts’ liver, lungs, kidneys, and heart had been accepted. His eyes, however, were rejected.

Moore could not confirm whether her gay son had been sexually active with a man in the five years prior to his death, leading to the rejection of the tissue.

The regulations barring tissue donations of men who have sex with men were established during the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the US to prevent transmission of the disease.

Moore told news station KCCI: “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.

“This is archaic, and it is just silly that people wouldn’t get the lifesaving assistance they need because of regulations that are 30 years old.”

A Pittsburgh man who died earlier this year was also deemed not suitable as a tissue donor because he was gay.

A bill which could eventually allow the donation of HIV positive organs to HIV positive recipients passed the House in July 2013. 

Recently, The Welsh Government encouraged those attending this weekend’s Pride Cymru to talk about organ donation.