A young boy, who was denied the opportunity to donate his blood to his dying mother due to his sexuality, has spoken about the decision to a local paper.
Dij Bentley lost his mother to acute myeloid leukaemia last August. Prior to her death, she had developed an infection and needed a blood transfusion.
Friends and family members were asked to give blood to see if they were a match for her. Although Bentley did not know whether he was a match, he was prevented from donating under rules which bar men who have had with another man from giving blood.
Speaking to the Scottish Herald, Dij said: “Anybody who has got a heart would want to help. And it’s especially poignant when it’s a member of your own family.
Adding, “I went along to my local clinic on my 17th birthday. I really wanted to give blood. After I’d handed in my questionnaire, I was very sensitively taken to the side by the nurse who said: ‘I’m really sorry, we’re really grateful to have you along but unfortunately because you have engaged in activity with men, we can’t take your blood.”
“Maybe gay men do have a right to give blood if they want to. Certainly for me, who was in a monogamous relationship, I think it would have been acceptable in these circumstances,
Also speaking to the Herald, a spokeswoman for The Scottish Blood Transfusion Service argued:
“To minimise the risk of a blood transfusion transmitting an infection to patients, all donations are tested for viruses such as HIV. However, the tests are not completely infallible, particularly in the early stages of infection.
“To reduce this risk, the current policy is to ask those groups who have an increased risk of blood-borne viruses not to donate blood on a temporary or permanent basis. Currently, men who have sex with men are asked not to give blood permanently, with the exclusion resting on specific sexual behaviours, rather than sexuality.”