Canada Bars Gay Organ Donors

By admin

Originally published on Advocate.com January 09 2008 1:00 AM ET

Canadian
transplant programs will no longer harvest organs from the
bodies of gay men who were sexually active, according to CBC News.
The new regulation, passed by Health Canada,
which technically went into effect in December,
excludes men who had sex with men, injection drug
users, and other groups they consider high-risk. Many health
officials in transplant programs throughout the
country were not aware of the new law.
"We have not been informed, first of all, that
Health Canada is considering this," Gary Levy, head of
Toronto University's transplant program, told CBC
News. "Obviously, if Health Canada wishes to discuss
that, we would hope they would engage all stakeholders."

The new law also
requires that transplant officials must interview family
members of the donor during the screening process.

"We'll be asking
about things like travel, history of infectious
disease, whether [the donors have] been in
jail — that puts you at increased risk,"
Peter Nickerson, director of Transplant Manitoba, said
to CBC News. "Have they been an IV drug abuser in
the past? Have they had tattoos? There's a whole list
of questions we go through," he added, one of them
being sexual orientation and activity.

In the past,
transplant programs have screened potential donors and in
some cases used organs from high-risk individuals. The new
regulation halts this practice and prohibits the use
of organs from men who had sex with men within
the last five years of of their lives.

Levy estimates
that the new regulation will mean that seven out of every
100 potential donors will be excluded, while approximately
4,000 Canadians are on organ wait-lists.

Every state in
the U.S. has separate organ donation eligibility
requirements, and while sexually active gay men cannot
donate blood, there are no specific prohibitions for
organ donation -- medical suitability is determined at
the time of death. (The Advocate)