January 09, 2008
Canadian transplant programs will no longer harvest organs from the bodies of gay men who were sexually active, according to CBC News.The new regulation, passed by Health Canada, which technically went into effect in December, excludes men who had sex with men, injection drug users, and other groups they consider high-risk. Many health officials in transplant programs throughout the country were not aware of the new law."We have not been informed, first of all, that Health Canada is considering this," Gary Levy, head of Toronto University's transplant program, told CBC News. "Obviously, if Health Canada wishes to discuss that, we would hope they would engage all stakeholders."
The new law also requires that transplant officials must interview family members of the donor during the screening process.
"We'll be asking about things like travel, history of infectious disease, whether [the donors have] been in jail — that puts you at increased risk," Peter Nickerson, director of Transplant Manitoba, said to CBC News. "Have they been an IV drug abuser in the past? Have they had tattoos? There's a whole list of questions we go through," he added, one of them being sexual orientation and activity.
In the past, transplant programs have screened potential donors and in some cases used organs from high-risk individuals. The new regulation halts this practice and prohibits the use of organs from men who had sex with men within the last five years of of their lives.
Levy estimates that the new regulation will mean that seven out of every 100 potential donors will be excluded, while approximately 4,000 Canadians are on organ wait-lists.
Every state in the U.S. has separate organ donation eligibility requirements, and while sexually active gay men cannot donate blood, there are no specific prohibitions for organ donation -- medical suitability is determined at the time of death. (The Advocate)