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Deceased Iowa teen’s eye donation rejected because he was gay

Thursday, August 14, 2014
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PLEASANT HILL, Iowa — Months before taking his own life last year, Alexander (AJ) Betts, a 16-year-old teen from Iowa, volunteered to become an organ donor.

AJ Betts

AJ Betts

But a Food and Drug Administration policy which prohibits men who have sex with men from donating tissue, has barred Betts from fulfilling one of his final wishes, because he was gay.

AJ’s mother, Sheryl Moore, says she is furious after her son’s eye donation was been rejected because of his sexual orientation, reports KCCI-TV.

“My initial feeling was just very angry because I couldn’t understand why my 16-year-old son’s eyes couldn’t be donated just because he was gay,” Moore said.

While his liver, lungs, kidneys and heart had been accepted, AJ’s eyes were rejected because of the FDA regulation that came about decades ago at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It makes would-be donors ineligible to donate certain tissue if they’re believed to have a “risk factor” for communicable diseases.

Because Moore could not confirm whether her son had been sexually active or not, the donor network had to assume he had been sexually active in the last five years, thereby ineligible to donate tissue or his eyes.

“This is archaic, and it is just silly that people wouldn’t get the life-saving assistance they need because of regulations that are 30 years old,” Moore said.

KCCI-TV has more:

AJ committed suicide in July 2013. Moore said her son was constantly ridiculed not only for being gay, but also because he was half African-American and was born with a cleft lip.

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