“Gay Blood Ban” Ends

All sensible people will be glad that the first act of new Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill (Sinn Féin) has been to overturn the ban on Gay Men donating blood to the Blood Transfusion Service. Previous DUP Health Ministers have argued that the ban would end when the scientific evidence proved there was no risk…but with many fundamentalist Christians in the DUP ranks, it was clear that the ban was as much about a warped notion of Religion than Science.

Gay Men have as much right to serve the community and there are few better ways than serving the community than saving lives thru Blood Donation.

I have a mixed record on Blood Donation. I am something of a “lightweight” physically. And on one occasion when the Transfusion Service visited my workplace, I was teased by a colleague that I should ask them for some blood. I was so annoyed that I walked around the corner to the Blood Transfusion HQ and donated some prime Rhesus Negative. And I took great pleasure in going back to work and waving the green “pelican badge” and certificate in the nose of the co-worker.

To be honest, the Transfusion people should have asked more questions of me. At that point, weighed about 7stones 7 pounds but they never asked me my weight….they only asked if I had lost weight recently.

And so I gave blood every six months. Mostly colleagues could not believe I was a blood donor. Not even the senior officer who was particuarly nasty about it. But Karma was my friend. Half an hour after laughing at me, he fainted and was taken away in an ambulance.

Yes….Karma…..a couple of donations later, I had the misfortune to meet a nurse who had more chance of finding Lord Lucan riding Shergar than finding a vein in my arms. I probably should not mention this to all my gay friends who cant wait to have needles stuck in their arms….but the swelling and bruising in both arms did not go down for a month. And I said…..NEVER AGAIN. But dont let this put you off donating blood….that nurse is probably retired now.

That was several years ago.

The real point here is that the Norn Iron Blood Transfusion Service is ALWAYS short of Blood. The Hetereosexual Community is not exactly lining up to donate blood…so a chance for the Gay Community to shame the Straight people. Having agitated for the right to save lives thru donation, we should remember that like all of us they have a right to refuse or find excuses just like the rest of us.

Back in the 1970s the TV adverts to promote donation featured Liverpool folk group, The Spinners, well known as liberals and anti-racists. One scene had the three white members expressing surprise that the black member had RED blood.

White Blood. Black Blood. Unionist Blood. Nationalist Blood. Protestant Blood. Catholic Blood. Gay Blood. Straight Blood…..there is only BLOOD.

A good day…..for Gay people AND Straight people…..especially if you or your family happen to need a blood transfusion at some point in your life.

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19 Responses to “Gay Blood Ban” Ends

  1. Sinn Féin Supporter in County Tyrone says:

    I am very impressed. This is a very important announcement and shows Sinn Féin pulling its weight in the Executive. This is about equality for the LGBT community as Minister Michelle O’Neill explained yesterday.

    • You are of course easily impressed by anything Sinn Féin does. One of the reasons that Blood was in short supply in the 1970s, 1980s was the Troubles…gunshot wounds, bombing injuries.
      Still “very impressed”?

  2. Vince says:

    A very good opportunity to promote that overall deficit in blood donors. Might also be opportune to plug the need for platelet donors. These are crucial because of the increasing use of chemotherapies which can deplete platelets with potentially serious consequences in terms of bleeding. Donating platelets is done in the same donation suite in Belfast, it just takes a little longer, but the great thing is that you can donate these more often than you can donate whole blood – every month vs every 3 months.
    So if you want to help people – neighbours, friends, family – going through surgery, victims of trauma, cancer patients undergoing complex chemotherapy etc, get yourself over to the NIBTS at the Belfast City Hospital at the first opportunity. It is one of the most worthwhile things you will ever do.

  3. Catholic voter says:

    Do you know whether a hiv positive donor’s blood would get picked up in the blood tesing ?

  4. A retrograde step which threatens all the populace, driven more by ideology than sense, 17% of HIV infected people are not diagnosed, the vast majority of whom are gay men. The lifetime ban musts stand as a precaution to protect everyone, straight gay or otherwise. Just as the South has in place and many other countries. The South still has a ban on those of us who may have eaten meat in the UK in the eighties and nineties as it is deemed too dangerous. bear in mind that this is based on the UK having only had 176 infection of BSE in humans and a blood transfusion infection in only 3. This is a foolish move that endangers all of us.

    • So….you would refuse to have a blood transfusion for yourself and your family.

      • I wouldn’t. This is due to the probability that the transfusion is necessary. Not to do it would be a bigger risk than doing so. But that does not excuse the increasing of the risk of infected blood to suit an ideology.

    • Gaygael says:

      COMMENT DELETED.
      This site welcomes comments from nationalists and unionists.
      This site does not welcome comments from LetsGetAlongerists, as they are over-represented in other forums such as Slugger O’TOole.
      As I understand it, the commenter (sic) stood as a Green Party candidate at the recent Assembly Election and the Green Party designates itself as “Other” in the Assembly and therefore I dont value Green Party contributions.
      There are two subsequent comments which reference this comment so I have also deleted them.

    • Karma…strikes again.
      At a seminar over two years ago Crawley asked me to define “LetsGetAlongerism” and I went off on (as I thought) humourous riff that listed several things including the Alliance Party, integrated education, Platform for Change, shared history,,…..and Rory McIlroy….at which point he turned his back on me and told the seminar that I was a tin foil hat wearer.
      I learned a big lesson that day. I dont mind making some fun at my own expense. A lot of what I write is self deprecating. But Crawley made fun of me that day and I am in no rush to “forgive”.
      So….Karma!!!

      • Catholic voter says:

        I think newspapers and TV shouldnt report so much on “stupid tweets. ” Whether crawley, Adams, or jude Collins, or trump these tweet news stories are pretty trivial . Bbc ni spent all of Wednesday discussing a (imo stupid) tweet by Collins about the bb. There are more important issues. It’s a waste of licence payers money.

      • I think most journalists just spend their day monitoring tweets. Its just lazy.

  5. Political Tourist says:

    Wasn’t that long ago Gay men could have ended up in prison and facing electric shock treatment to “cure” them.

    • Yes indeed.
      And I think that the language around Homosexuality has changed. …eg I would not have heard the word “Gay” in this context until I was an adult. They were other words (not ncessarily the “Q” word) that were used. And of course a cheap source of laughter in TV and movies like “Carry Ons”….and of course too many people had to live a double life.

  6. Turgon says:

    I agree with the end of the ban but only because NI receives blood from GB and GB has ended the ban. Personally I think the ban should have been maintained for all of the UK (as it is in Germany for example).

    Receiving a blood transfusion carries with it a risk. That risk is justifiable as the alternative (not getting blood) is usually riskier. However, we should minimise the risk.

    The one year ban reduces the risk of people receiving blood infected with HIV and Hepatitis B and C and syphilis but does not completely eliminate it. Late sero conversions are rare but possible. The screening will pick up most but not all infected blood. Put simply accepting this blood somewhat increases risk. Although we always need more blood this is a risk greater than we need run in my opinion.

    Giving blood is not a human right: that is a piece of nonsense.

    This is about minimising risk to the recipient. The GB decision increased the risk to people in GB and NI. Not a big increase in risk but an increase. Our decision increases that risk fractionally more. Hopefully we will never find out that someone has developed a life threatening illness because of the donation. The thing is we will never be certain.

    That we have thrown out the precautionary principle on this subject is an increase in risk.

    • I appreciate your input here.
      I think that there is always a risk and I note that your very good point that “giving blood is not a human right”.
      I think we have to accept that wanting to donate blood is a very public spirited thing to do. But nobody has an absoluute right to insist their blood is actually used.
      I wonder if it is very different for organ donation…again a public spirited thing to do. But I would assume that nobody has the absolute right to donate a kidney. There would surely be a risk assessment before a kidney went into another human being.
      It seems reasonable that blood should be risk assessed. If it is impractical to risk assess every individual donation, then it does seem reasonable to have some kinda protocols.
      Of course this blood ban hinges on the “reasonable risk”.
      But I think there was a case a few years ago where an organ donor expressed the intention that his organ only go to a person of same ethnic origin. As I recall the donation was refused on the basis that it broke the spirit of organ donation.
      Is there a similarity here. Can gay men “dictate” that all of us are obliged to receive their blood?
      I WANT to go with the (newer) Science here but I dont feel comfortable that the Science might be compromised by “political correctness”.
      Maybe Gay men should be thanked for their obvious public spirit but maybe suggested that the greater public good would be served by NOT donating blood.

      For myself….I am not bothered by the additional risk.

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