Despite call for coronavirus survivors to donate plasma, some still being turned away from blood donation

Officials across New York are asking coronavirus survivors to donate their blood in order to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. 

Lukus Estok suffered through COVID-19 for the last month, before recovering and testing positive for the antibodies that are currently being sought out as a possible treatment to help save others infected with coronavirus. 

However, Estok says that when he went to the New York Blood Center, he was not allowed to donate blood because he is a gay man.

Gay men have been prohibited from donating blood ever since the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. The policy was revised slightly in 2015, but this month in the wake of COVID-19, the FDA decided that due to “the urgent and immediate need for blood and plasma,” gay men who abstained from sex for three months could donate blood.


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“Without really thinking about it I just said ‘I’m a gay man,’ and the immediate response to me was ‘Well, you will not be donating today,’” Estok said of his experience attempting to donate blood. Estok said that even when he attempted to clarify with Blood Center employees that the FDA had changed their restrictions on donations effective immediately, he was denied the ability to donate his blood.

In a statement to FOX 5 NY, an FDA spokesman said that blood banks “would need to update both their donor history questionnaires to screen donors consistent with the new recommendations.”

“What’s happening right now is that blood centers are working to update all of their processes, forms, education, and training of their staff in order to welcome these new individuals as donors,” said Kate Fry, the CEO of the non-profit America’s Blood Centers. 

“It’s unacceptable, we’re in a global health crisis right now and I’m getting text messages every couple of days from New York City telling the citizens of New York that they need blood and plasma donations right now that could potentially help people that are experiencing severe cases of this virus.

The New York Blood Center says they hope to begin accepting gay and bisexual men as blood donors by mid-May.