By Amanda Allshouse, Instructor, Department of Biostatistics and Informatics Colorado School of Public Health and Board Member Stapleton United Neighbors
Bonfils and SUN will host blood drives in Stapleton on the 30th of January, April and July (last Saturdays of each month). Registration is online for the January 30 blood drive, www.bonfils.org. Choose Donate blood > Schedule an appointment > type in site code “5463.”
It has been six years since a blood drive was sponsored by SUN; the last was to honor the memory of Edison Sherlock in early 2010. Former Stapleton resident and SUN board member Amanda Baldwin spearheaded multiple blood drives within the community. “I loved being involved in the Stapleton Blood Drives when I lived there. It always warmed my heart to see my neighbors take the time to roll up their sleeves and give the gift of life. When I approached the SUN board about starting the drives, I got so much support from them and the block captain network. The Bonfils representatives were blown away when we would quickly meet our goals, but I wasn’t surprised. Thanks to all who take the time to support the Stapleton Blood Drives and be a hero for someone in need.”
There are many exclusions for participating in blood drives, making the participation of those who are eligible so much more appreciated. Many Stapleton residents are ineligible as donors must be older than 18 years old, weight more than 115 lbs, able bodied, feeling well, without history of some cancers, not pregnant, clear of malarial-endemic areas for at least one year, and more. Check the full list of exclusion criteria or prescreen when registering online.
Other members of the community cannot donate blood because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not allow gay or bisexual men to donate if not abstinent within the past year. This policy was announced December 21, 2015 and is a revision from the previous stance from 1983 whereby a man who reported having had sex with another man (MSM) once since 1977 was permanently deferred from donating blood. This current federal policy is regardless of a man’s marital status despite being in the era of federally-recognized gay marriage per the June 26, 2015 Obergefell, et al. v. Hodges decision. In November 2015, France joined the UK, Australia, the Netherlands and Japan in allowing MSMs to donate blood if it had been more than one year since last MSM contact. In France, if sexual contact was limited to one partner within the past four months, a plasma donation is allowed.
In a position paper* Georges C. Benjamin, MD and Executive Director of The American Public Health Association, stated, “Such a [policy] continues to prevent low-risk individuals from contributing to our blood supply and maintains discriminatory practices based on outdated stereotypes. Instead, we strongly urge FDA to issue guidance that is grounded in science to ensure a safe and robust blood supply.” Then adding “Full elimination of [the 12-month ban] would result in 4.2 million newly eligible donors and an estimated 615,300 additional pints of blood donated each year increasing the total annual blood supply by 4 percent.” Bonfils stated, “Our top priority is to provide a safe and adequate blood supply for patients in need of blood transfusions. Blood centers are regulated by the FDA and we must abide by their guidelines. All blood centers will comply with the current FDA blood donation eligibility criteria.”
Blood donation is very important and much needed, especially at this time of the year. SUN’s encouragement for those eligible to participate is not in support of the FDA’s continued discriminatory stance preventing gay members of the community from participating.
In December, Denver police D1 Officer Tony Lopez Jr. lost a critical amount of blood after being shot seven times on duty. To donate in his honor, notify Bonfils. To share a story about why you will be donating, or your thoughts on this topic, email SUNoutreach@gmail.com. This author will be donating in honor of the late Corporal Barry Beam who required 50+ units during a five-month battle with an aggressive Lymphoma in 2015.