- Chicago ER doctor Dillon Barron had COVID-19, and wanted to donate his plasma to help other patients fight off the virus.
- But he told CBS Chicago that he’s unable to donate because of mandates that ban men who have sex with other men from donating.
- CBS Chicago said blood banks are missing out on hundreds of thousands of pints of blood because of an FDA policy banning men who have sex with men from donating.
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An emergency room doctor in Chicago who survived COVID-19 says he tried to donate plasma after recovering from the virus, but was told he couldn’t because he’s gay.
Dillon Barron, who works in a hospital on the north side of Chicago, told CBS Chicago that he and his partner wanted to donate plasma after recovering from COVID-19. He said that their blood is rich in antibodies, which can help other patients fight off the virus.
“We’re sitting on something that could be saving lives,” Barron said.
But the US Food and Drug Administration forbids men who have sex with other men are barred from donating blood unless they have abstained from sex for three months.
Up until April, the FDA banned men who have had sex with men in the past year from donating blood, but the agency shortened the time period to three months to help encourage more blood donations during the coronavirus outbreak, according to NBC News.
CBS Chicago reported that blood banks have lost hundreds of thousands of pints of blood by banning men who have sex with men.
“Those won’t be available because of bigotry or laziness or people who don’t believe in science,” Barron’s partner, Eric Seelbach, told CBS Chicago.
Men who have sex with men have been banned from donating blood since 1985. The rule was put in place to help stop the spread of HIV.
Dr. Anu Hazra, an infectious disease physician at the University of Chicago and a staff physician at the Howard Brown Health Centre, told CBS Chicago that the ban is based on guidelines from four decades ago, and screening and testing has improved since then.
He also said that there’s “no science currently to support” the policy banning men who have sex from men from donating.
Hazra said there shouldn’t be specific communities banned from donating, and instead, there should be “individual risk assessments for every donor, regardless of whether they are gay or straight.”