Canada May Allow Gay Blood Donors

May 26th, 2010

A group of doctors has come forward in support of lifting Canadian Blood Services’ permanent deferral of gay men donating blood. In a medical paper published in yesterday’s issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, several doctors submitted that the ban is unscientific, harmful and must be reconsidered. A step in the right direction, if Canadian Blood Services takes notice.

In Canada, all potential blood donors must fill out a questionnaire before getting in the chair. Any man who answers yes to a question asking if he has had sex with another man—even once—since the 1970s is permanently barred from donating.

Canada has been facing a blood shortage, and while the safety of the blood supply is more important than the right of any individual to donate, the questionnaire is flawed; it filters potential donors based purely on who they are, not through any scientific risk analysis. This not only turns away healthy gay donors and fails to catch unhealthy heterosexual ones,  but also perpetuates the myth that all gay men are inherently dangerous. Replacing the question with one that, instead, filters potential donors based on a history of risky behaviour irrespective of their gender would solve these issues.

Hopefully Canadian Blood Services will take note. And who knows? With more and more medical experts coming out against the ban, maybe one day I, too, will be able to experience the pleasure of having my veins punctured with hollow metal spikes, and watch litres of blood leave my body into bags until I feel woozy.