MSU Student Denied from Giving Blood Because He's Gay

A senior at Midwestern State University says he was denied the opportunity to donate blood during a blood drive held on Tuesday on campus.

"Yesterday, after my first class, I was walking through the student center and this lady approached me asking me if I wanted to donate blood. I was like, "Yeah sure, why not," thinking nothing of it."

However, for Daryl Smith, a senior majoring in social work, there would be an obstacle in him giving blood; his sexual preference.

"I was at a total loss for words," Smith exclaims. "I didn't know what to say."

Smith adds, "How can you stop someone from saving a life and giving blood when I'm perfectly healthy. There's absolutely nothing wrong with me at all."

Jan Hale with the American Red Cross says the blood industry follows all FDA guidelines and recommendations set forth for the blood industry.

One of those rules deals with a time frame.

The questionnaire donors fill out before giving blood asks male potential donors if at any point from 1977 to the present if he has had sex with another man.

If the answer is yes, the rules read that there is a permanent deferral, meaning the individual can't give blood.

"That just needs to be an updated law because that was back in the 70s when people weren't really educated about it but now we're educated about it," Smith says. "People are safer, a lot more safer today then they were back then."

Hale says changes to the deferral have been presented in recent years but no action has been taken.

"We believe the current lifetime deferral for men who have had sex with men is unwarranted at this time and that we should work to develop some donor deferral criteria that can be modified and made comparable for other criteria with other groups," Hale says.

Hale says the American Red Cross' main concern is to protect the blood supply and ensure the safety of donors and blood recipients.

"We see this across the country and we are concerned," Hale says. "We are concerned from both sides. Our top priority is the safety of the blood supply. That's always at the top of our minds but we do see that there should be some changes that can hopefully work toward making in the future.

Other deferrals that keep people from donating blood include medical conditions, medications people are taking and those who may have visited certain countries.

Smith hopes the mandate can be changed that will lift the negative stereotype.

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