Teenager's Eye Donation Rejected Because He Was Gay

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By Sarah Thomas | August 20, 2014 10:45 AM EST

There are 45 million blind persons in the world, as of 2013. Hospitals and medical institutions urge people to donate their eyes, so that after their death it can still help other visually challenged people. But a 16 year old boy's eye donation was rejected on the grounds that he was a gay.

Reuters
Blind reserve players of Jordan's Al Shulla Club cheer their team on during their West Asian Clubs Targetball Tournament match against Iraqi Central Region Club in Amman July 11, 2011. Targetball is similar to handball and consists of two teams of three blind players sitting on the floor facing each other, and trying to score into an open net. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji (JORDAN - Tags: SPORT SOCIETY)

Alexander Betts Jr committed suicide last year, after which his liver, kidney and lungs were donated to recipients. Shockingly the Washington post reported that his eye was not allowed to be donated because he was gay.

Betts Jr., was from Iowa and had decided to become an organ donor several months before his suicide. After his death all his organs were donated except for his eyes. His mother, Sheryl Moore received a letter that stated that the boy's eye donation was rejected because of his risk for HIV.

This angered Moore. She said that initially she could not comprehend the reason behind it. In the past five years, the Food and Drug Administration has not allow males who have had gay sex to donate some of their tissue. The eye is also included, due to the fear of it spreading HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases to the recipients. The FDA stated that a donation would lead to "an increased risk for exposure."

Bett Jr's mother said, "I couldn't understand why my 16-year-old son's eyes couldn't be donated just because he was gay." The donor network declared his eyes ineligible for donation because his mother was unsure if he had sex with another man in the past 5 years.

Critics say that the policy that is outdated. There are loopholes in the policy as well, men who sleep with HIV-positive women are banned to donate their organs only for a year, after which they can donate them like a normal non-HIV person. The American Medical Association wants to end a ban on gay men donating blood as well, the Washington Post reported.

 "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," Miss Moore told the station.

Moore said that this was the most painful thing that has ever happened to her."I would not wish that on my worst enemy," she said. 

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Blind reserve players of Jordan's Al Shulla Club cheer their team on during their West Asian Clubs Targetball Tournament match against Iraqi Central Region Club in Amman July 11, 2011. Targetball is similar to handball and consists of two teams of three blind players sitting on the floor facing each other, and trying to score into an open net. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji (JORDAN - Tags: SPORT SOCIETY)
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