Tuesday, 8 January 2008

I have a problem with this...

Sexually active gay men no longer allowed to donate organs

"Dr. Peter Nickerson, director of Transplant Manitoba, which procures organs in that province, said transplant programs must now by law interview family members of the donor as part of the screening process.

"We'll be asking about things like travel, history of infectious disease, whether they've [donors] been in jail — that puts you at increased risk," Nickerson said. "Have they been an IV drug abuser in the past? Have they had tattoos? There's a whole list of questions we go through."

They are also asked about the donor's sexual orientation. The donor will be excluded if the donor is a man who had sex with another man in the previous five years.

Health Canada had contracted the Canadian Standards Association in 2003 to come up with standardized guidelines to ensure the safety of the organ donation system."

I understand Health Canada's desire to protect patients from diseases that can be transmitted through organs, but this is a little over-zealous. Not only are they ruling out an entire group of people, they are ruling out a lot of others based on some stereotypical notions about risky behavior. There is more relevant information to determine that a donor is at risk for disease. Sexual orientation is not necessarily an indicator that the donor is at risk, engaging in risky behaviour is an indication that a donor would be at risk.

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