Lift blood donation restrictions call as shortage continues

Many Prince Edward Islanders are calling restrictions on who can and who can't donate blood discriminatory, and say they should be lifted.

Pride PEI asks Canadian Blood Services to allow sexually-active gay men to donate

Many Prince Edward Islanders are calling restrictions on who can and who can't donate blood discriminatory, and say they should be lifted.

Canadian Blood Services' restrictions on gay men are discriminatory, says Tyler Murnaghan of Pride PEI. (CBC)

They're reacting to a nationwide appeal from Canadian Blood Services to increase donations.

Prince Edward Islanders responded to the call, lining up to donate, but many who would like to donate cannot. Specifically, men who have had sex with other men in the past five years.

"Kind of ridiculous, you look at it and it's like, you can't see the logic in it," said Tyler Murnaghan of Pride PEI.

"People that really want to give and they can't just because of a stigma from the 1980s."

Five years abstinence is now the requirement for gay and bisexual men, changed last year from a permanent no.

"Gay men that want to donate blood, they want to help out but they just can't," said Murnaghan.

"It's really frustrating to them. They've been in committed relationships for say even, 20 or 30 years and they still just can't help out somebody."

There were more frustrated responses on CBC P.E.I.'s Facebook page.

"I'm gay. You don't want my blood," David Francis Bursey wrote.

"I'm very healthy, and I'd love to give, but until you get rid of this archaic ban, you'll have to find other donors."

"I think certain restrictions would be reevaluated in the interest of saving lives," wrote Elyse Cottrell.

Canadian Blood Services is facing a shortage of donors. (CBC)

There are other groups being excluded" people who lived in the UK between 1980 and 1997; those who recently visited certain countries, such as the Dominican Republic; those who've had a sexual relationship with a resident of certain African countries.

Canadian Blood Services responded to a request for an interview from CBC News via email. A spokesperson wrote their primary concern is safety, adding the five-year celibacy requirement was established after an extensive scientific review and with the input from the LGBT community.

For mobile device users: Should Canadian Blood Services further reduce the restrictions it places on some Canadians who want to donate blood?


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