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Donating blood: my ethical dilemma

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Rumpelstiltskin
Broadway Star
joined:4/22/07
Broadway Star | Joined: 4/22/07
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#1
Posted: 8/30/17 at 10:39pm

I live in Houston.  You all know we’ve had one hell of a week.  While my husband and I are safe and our world is intact, we have friends and work colleagues who have potentially lost everything in their homes.  Regardless, they are alive and well and that’s what matters.  Others are not so lucky.

Some background:  my husband and I have been a couple for close to 25 years.  We made the decision long ago to be monogamous and have been faithful to that commitment.  (This is no way should be misconstrued as a judgement against people who make different choices.)

Back to today:  According to the news, blood supplies are low and shortages are likely.  I would like to help.  When the nurse asks whether I have had sex with a man who has sex with men (or whatever that absurdly-worded question is), do I answer honestly and get shown the door? … or do I put myself back in the closet, lie, and donate my rare blood type that is always in demand with absolutely zero chance of putting someone at risk?

Thanks for your thoughts.

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Call_me_jorge
Broadway Legend
joined:1/9/15
Broadway Legend | Joined: 1/9/15
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#2
Posted: 8/30/17 at 10:45pm

Well, I lived in England during mad cow. As a toddler. But I've still donated blood.

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TheGingerBreadMan
Broadway Legend
joined:12/7/12
Broadway Legend | Joined: 12/7/12
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#3
Posted: 8/31/17 at 12:51am

Donate. The gay sex rule is one that needs to be revised or deleted. 

UncleCharlie
Broadway Legend
joined:6/26/16
Broadway Legend | Joined: 6/26/16
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#4
Posted: 8/31/17 at 1:01am

Rumpelstiltskin said: "I live in Houston. You all know we’ve had one hell of a week. While my husband and I are safe and our world is intact, we have friends and work colleagues who have potentially lost everything in their homes. Regardless, they are alive and well and that’s what matters. Others are not so lucky.

Some background: my husband and I have been a couple for close to 25 years. We made the decision long ago to be monogamous and have been faithful to that commitment. (This is no way should be misconstrued as a judgement against people who make different choices.)

Back to today: According to the news, blood supplies are low and shortages are likely. I would like to help. When the nurse asks whether I have had sex with a man who has sex with men (or whatever that absurdly-worded question is), do I answer honestly and get shown the door? … or do I put myself back in the closet, lie, and donate my rare blood type that is always in demand with absolutely zero chance of putting someone at risk?

Thanks for your thoughts.
"

 

When it comes to someone donating their blood, their actions directly affect the health of other people. As such, ethically, I don't think for someone considering donating their blood, lying about their sexual history is ever the right answer. Assuming you're going to donate at a hospital or other reputable blood donation site, there will be very little the people who work there haven't seen or heard before. IMO, you should share that you have been in a monogamous same sex relationship for 25 years and both of you are healthy as horses. If they still don't want to take your blood, so be it. You offered. That's what really matters and sometimes that's all you can do. Their standards are there for a reason and even though it may preclude some perfectly healthy potential donors from donating, I don't think this is the type of situation where people should unilaterally decide the standards are unreasonable and lie to circumvent them.

A Director
Broadway Legend
joined:12/18/07
Broadway Legend | Joined: 12/18/07
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#5
Posted: 8/31/17 at 2:17am

Why don't you call the place where you plan to donate and ask about their policy?  Or see if their policy is posted online.

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adamgreer
Broadway Legend
joined:3/18/05
Broadway Legend | Joined: 3/18/05
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#6
Posted: 8/31/17 at 8:06am

The policy is the same everywhere, and has nothing to do with the donation center.  It's set by the government.

I had the same dilemma after Pulse.  I live in Orlando, and really felt the urge to try and help when they put out the call for blood donations.  I chose not to lie, and was turned away. I tried.

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Rumpelstiltskin
Broadway Star
joined:4/22/07
Broadway Star | Joined: 4/22/07
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#7
Posted: 8/31/17 at 9:25am

As adamgreer wrote, any details of our personal histories are ignored.  As long as we answer yes to the "men who have sex with men" question, we're disqualified immediately, regardless of shortages.  One thing I didn't mention earlier is that I go every couple of years to different centers to donate, tell the truth on the form, talk to a supervisor when I'm turned down, and leave knowing that at least I tried.  I know from many years experience that calling ahead or doing the other things mentioned in this thread won't make any difference.  They folks at the center are subject to rules that leave zero wiggle room to consider exceptional situations.  That's why this year, when the need has hit so close to home, I'm considering lying.  

Thanks for all the comments so far, pro and con.  This is useful.  Heading over now to volunteer at a shelter.  Hopefully I can help in some small way.

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Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Broadway Legend | Joined: 5/17/03
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#8
Posted: 8/31/17 at 3:27pm

As such, ethically, I don't think for someone considering donating their blood, lying about their sexual history is ever the right answer.

Ethically, the question is biased and discriminatory and hence, unethical.

"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
Updated On: 8/31/17 at 03:27 PM
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henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
Broadway Legend | Joined: 4/29/05
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#9
Posted: 8/31/17 at 3:34pm

Don't lie.  Instead, bring eligible donors in to give blood.

 

Updated On: 9/1/17 at 03:34 PM
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South Florida
Broadway Legend
joined:5/2/08
Broadway Legend | Joined: 5/2/08
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#10
Posted: 8/31/17 at 4:28pm

I agree with all the comments in here.  This is a thoughtful community of people and all the posters who offered advice seem to be thoughtful types. 

Stephanatic
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South Florida
Broadway Legend
joined:5/2/08
Broadway Legend | Joined: 5/2/08
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#11
Posted: 8/31/17 at 4:30pm

I would hope all of the blood is screened, this does seem a little confusing.

 

Stephanatic
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Rumpelstiltskin
Broadway Star
joined:4/22/07
Broadway Star | Joined: 4/22/07
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#12
Posted: 8/31/17 at 5:16pm

South Florida said: "I would hope all of the blood is screened, this does seem a little confusing."

Here's the policy.  Click on "men who have sex with men".

http://http://m.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/lgbtq-donors

We can donate provided we have been celibate for one year.   This is the alleged "improvement" over the earlier policy that imposed a lifetime ban.  

 

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South Florida
Broadway Legend
joined:5/2/08
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Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#13
Posted: 8/31/17 at 5:46pm

I got this site can't be reached.

Stephanatic
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Jay Lerner-Z
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joined:4/4/11
Broadway Legend | Joined: 4/4/11
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#14
Posted: 8/31/17 at 6:24pm

http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/lgbtq-donors

 

If all "MSM" lied, though, wouldn't that essentially lessen the chances of them ever changing the policy? Maybe shortages like this are the only way they will ever even consider it, though maybe I am deluded - so perhaps lying could do short-term good, but maybe long-term damage. I have no idea. Donating blood:  my ethical dilemma

Sick, pathetic POS
wonkit
Broadway Legend
joined:9/30/08
Broadway Legend | Joined: 9/30/08
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#15
Posted: 8/31/17 at 10:59pm

Please consider finding another way to help flood victims. Whether or not the question is acceptable, lying is not morally or ethically appropriate in the face of a natural disaster.

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Mister Matt
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joined:5/17/03
Broadway Legend | Joined: 5/17/03
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#16
Posted: 9/2/17 at 10:09pm

Whether or not the question is acceptable, lying is not morally or ethically appropriate in the face of a natural disaster.

Bullsh!t.  In the faceof a natural disaster, it's the blood that is important and it's the question that is not morally or ethically appropriate.  If you've been tested and you're clean, do what you have to in order to donate the blood needed.  Any person in desperate need of blood to save their lives doesn't give a sh!t who to donor has screwed as long as the blood is clean.

"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
Margo319
Broadway Legend
joined:5/28/15
Broadway Legend | Joined: 5/28/15
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#17
Posted: 9/3/17 at 4:09pm

"When it comes to someone donating their blood, their actions directly affect the health of other people. As such, ethically, I don't think for someone considering donating their blood, lying about their sexual history is ever the right answer"

Thank you.  I agree 100%.  A lot of federal laws are awful.  This just happens to be one of them.  There are are other ways to help, and I am sure you will find those things because you seem like a really good person.  Sending you and your entire city healing thoughts and a donation to the food bank. 

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Rumpelstiltskin
Broadway Star
joined:4/22/07
Broadway Star | Joined: 4/22/07
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#18
Posted: 9/3/17 at 5:26pm

Margo319 said: " . . . Sending you and your entire city healing thoughts and a donation to the food bank."

Thanks.  I appreciate that.  There has been so much devastation and loss.  My heart aches for the folks still living in shelters with nowhere to go.  To close the loop on this conversation, I'm sure it was clear that I was at a loss on how I could help.  Donating blood seemed like logical first step and I was frustrated knowing I would be turned down.  As it turns out, I just spent a few days at two of the main shelters and feel like I made a difference in some small way.  I didn't do anything other than unpack boxes, sort donations, hand out provisions, and (this was sweet) read books to groups of kids, but no longer feel that sense of impotence in the face of something so much bigger than me.

The blood donation conversation shouldn't end here.  Thanks again for all your comments.  I found the mix of views insightful and illuminating.  This board is full of bright and passionate people.  And if we educated a few people on this shortsighted and discriminatory policy that serves no one, we've done a good thing.

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South Florida
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joined:5/2/08
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Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#19
Posted: 9/3/17 at 6:49pm

Kinda with Mister Matt here.  If blood comes to the point of being vital, and you know you're clean, do it.

 

Stephanatic
Margo319
Broadway Legend
joined:5/28/15
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Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#20
Posted: 9/5/17 at 6:15pm

"I didn't do anything other than unpack boxes, sort donations, hand out provisions, and (this was sweet) read books to groups of kids, but no longer feel that sense of impotence in the face of something so much bigger than me."

Um, you did a WHOLE LOT.  Thank you for helping, in this current horrific political climate, it's wonderful to know that people are still loving and want to help their fellow human.  You are a fantastic man.   

Updated On: 9/5/17 at 06:15 PM
Margo319
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joined:5/28/15
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Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#21
Posted: 9/5/17 at 6:16pm
Updated On: 9/5/17 at 06:16 PM
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Rumpelstiltskin
Broadway Star
joined:4/22/07
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Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#22
Posted: 12/15/20 at 8:43am

The UK has taken the appropriate steps to end draconian policies regarding gay men and blood donations.  It's time we followed their lead.

CNN - The UK will let some sexually active gay and bisexual men give blood, ending a controversial ban

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Sutton Ross
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joined:7/20/13
Broadway Legend | Joined: 7/20/13
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#23
Posted: 12/15/20 at 1:53pm

According to the FDA: “Defer for 3 months from the most recent sexual contact, a man who has had sex with another man during the past 3 months.” 

So, it was a lifetime ban, then one year, and now it's down to 3 months. I think the next step is eliminating this ridiculous policy. Nobody should possibly care what people do in private, clean blood is clean blood. Period. 

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Phantom of London
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joined:3/26/08
Broadway Legend | Joined: 3/26/08
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#24
Posted: 12/15/20 at 9:02pm

I take it this is all about HIV or Aids?

Why cannot a gay man donate blood it HIV viral load in his blood is undetectable?

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TheatreFan4
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joined:8/12/09
Broadway Legend | Joined: 8/12/09
Donating blood: my ethical dilemma#25
Posted: 12/16/20 at 12:07am

Phantom of London said: "I take it this is all about HIV or Aids?

Why cannot a gay man donate blood it HIV viral load in his blood is undetectable?
"

Hey, if you wanna be the one to guinea pig taking pints of undetectable HIV positive blood be my guest... Untransmittable currently only means via unprotected sex. Other vectors don't have data supporting them at this time.