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LGBTQ+ community encouraged to register to save and heal lives

06/8/2022

One of the many misconceptions about organ, eye and tissue donation is that members of the LGBTQ+ community are not able to register as organ donors, or receive a transplant.

This is FALSE.

Andrew Banacki, living kidney donor from Ohio, speaks on the misconceptions that come with organ donation and how his family’s life was impacted by organ donation. Banacki is a proud gay man, and he was able to donate his kidney to his father, giving him another chance at life.

“I think in the gay community there’s a huge misconception that – say I’m a gay male – I can’t give blood, so nobody’s going to take my organs,” says Kent Holloway, former CEO of Lifeline of Ohio at the time of Banacki’s interview. “So why am I going to register? I can’t do anything. And it couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

Living kidney donor Andrew Banacki (r) with his father (l) Photo credit: 10 WBNS

While it’s true that people in the LGBTQ+ community have experienced being denied from some avenues of donation based on current exclusion criteria, organ donation is regulated differently than other types of donation.

Who Can Register?

A person’s sexual orientation and gender identity or expression have no determination over whether they can register as an organ donor, or receive an organ transplant. A national system matches available organs from the donor with people on the waiting list based on blood type, body size, how sick they are, donor distance, tissue type and time on the list. Sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, race, income, celebrity and social status are never considered. Plus, HIV, which has historically impacted the LGBTQ+ community, as well as hepatitis C infections, no longer prevent the possibility of lifesaving organ donation.

There are truly no limitations on who can register as a lifesaving organ, eye and tissue donor on DonateLifeAZ.org. As we celebrate Pride Month, we encourage members of the LGBTQ+ community to register to become organ, eye and tissue donors. There are over 106,000 people in need for transplants, and by registering, you can help save and heal lives.

A Second Chance At Life

Kidney recipient Michael Learned

After communicating through letters and social media for a couple years, kidney recipient Michael Learned and his husband, Matthew, finally met the family of Michael’s donor. Michael grew up with Type 1 diabetes and knew he would need a transplant in the future to save his life. Thanks to organ donor Jordyn Avelar, Michael received a second chance at life. The selfless decision to register as a donor results in countless second chances and changed lives every single day.

Donate Life Arizona encourages everyone to sign up to be an organ donor, regardless of sexuality or gender identity or expression. Help us offer hope to the 106,000 people on the national organ waiting list, and let’s bring an end to these misconceptions.

Arizonans can join the DonateLifeAZ Registry when they apply for or renew a driver’s license or state ID at an ADOT MVD office. They can also register online at DonateLifeAZ.org.

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