A little more than a year ago I first wrote about AJ Betts; he had become ‘Another One’ on this blog; another young LGBTQ youth who took his own life after constantly bullying and torment at school made him think going on for even one minute more would be unbearable. See that post HERE.
And just months before taking his life, AJ decided to become an organ donor, wanting his organs to be put to good use when he died. But, sadly, even after death, AJ’s being bullied again because, even although he kidney, liver, heart and lungs were given to people who needed them, his eyes will never be used.
AJ’s eyes were rejected because of a thirty-year-old Food and Drug Administration [FDA] regulation that came about at the height of the AIDS epidemic; it stated that would-be donors were ineligible to donate certain tissue if they’re believed to have a “risk factor” for communicable diseases.
Now, no one knows if AJ was a “risk factor” because no one knows if he’d been sexually active in the five years preceding his suicide. But, being a young gay man, he was automatically excluded from donating certain tissues; in fact, gay men are banned for life from donating blood because there is still the stigma of AIDS being a “gay” disease.
AJ’s mother, Sheryl Moore, finds it sad that people cannot get “the life-saving assistance they need because of regulations that are 30 years old” and she hopes that by telling AJ’s story will help to change those decade’s old regulations.
Ironically enough, the FDA does allow donations from heterosexuals who have slept with an HIV-positive person or commercial sex worker after one year, which makes absolutely no sense. Heterosexuals can get HIV/AIDS; they do contract the virus. But because AJ Betts was gay, even in death he’s being treated as less than.
Just like he was by the kids in his school.