Eye donation by gay teen that committed suicide rejected

August 23, 2014

A gay teen that committed suicide after being bullied by his classmates had one last wish-to donate his organs. While his kidneys, liver, heart, and lungs were donated, because of an FDA regulation, his eyes were not due to his sexual orientation.

 

Des Moines, Iowa-A gay teen that committed suicide after being bullied by his classmates had one last wish-to donate his organs. While his kidneys, liver, heart, and lungs were donated, because of an FDA regulation, his eyes were not due to his sexual orientation.

According to The Washing Post, 16-year-old Alexander “AJ” Betts, Jr. committed suicide after his classmates bullied him for being gay, his cleft lip, and for being half African American.

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“He’s different. He doesn’t add up to what they’re used to,” Noah Lahmann, the teen’s best friend, told local news station, KCCI.

Prior to taking his own life, Betts signed up to become an organ donor.

While several of his organs were harvested and given to patients in need after he died, the news station said his eyes were rejected due to an FDA regulation put in place decades ago at the height of the AIDS epidemic: would-be donors become ineligible to donate certain tissues if they are believed to have a ‘risk factor’ for communicable diseases.

 

The FDA’s regulation reflects its ban on gay men from donating blood, which was also instated during the AIDS crisis, The Washington Post wrote.

According to KCCI, because Betts’ family could not confirm if the boy had been sexually active or not, the donor network was forced to assume he had been sexually active in the last 5 years, ultimately disqualifying him to donate tissue and his eyes.

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“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,” Sheryl Moore, Betts’ mother, said to KCCI.

The FDA does allow donations from heterosexual people who have had sexual relations with an HIV-positive person or commercial sex worker after 1 year, but many experts have criticized the policy, calling it a contradiction.