Main | Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Canada Bans Gay Organ Donors

Over the objections of many doctors, Canada's health department has banned gay men from donating their organs.
A Health Canada regulation that bans most gay men from donating organs is scientifically unjustified, virtually unenforceable and could worsen critical transplant shortages, a prominent Toronto AIDS doctor says.

The regulation, which took effect in December and closely resembles blood-donor guidelines, prohibits organ donations from sexually active gay men, intravenous drug users and hepatitis victims.

Both strictures are unfair to thousands of conscientious gays, says Dr. Philip Berger, head of family and community medicine at St. Michael's Hospital.

"What about a gay monogamous couple, (Health Canada) is not going to let them donate? It's ridiculous," says Berger. "It's been known for 20 years that the risk factor is not in being gay (but) in risky sexual behaviour."

Heath Canada officials did not respond to numerous requests for interviews yesterday.

Berger says "it's what the individual does in their sexual lives, whether gay or straight, (that) puts them at risk."

"To exclude bona fide donors because they've had sex with another man ... would exclude a lot of people who are no risk at all. Zero risk."

Berger says the "unreasonable" restriction is bound to reduce the supply of transplant organs at a time when the need is growing more urgent.
You have to wonder how much the recent news about spiking HIV trends and the rise in other STD's among gay men may have impacted this decision. FDA guidelines ban American men who have had sex with another man in the last five years from donating organs. (Section IV.E.1).

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