Special Report: Man donating plasma says he experienced discrimination because of sexual orientation

Local

A local man trying to donate life-saving plasma said he was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation.

Daniel Hernandez posted about his experience on social media after it happened.

“I’m really offended,” Hernandez said in a video. “I’m really angry, people aren’t treated like this unless you’re gay.”

Hernandez voiced frustration after he was inspired to donate plasma after his mother passed away from COVID-19. Hernandez also contracted the virus.

“I just wanted to do something good for my mom,” he said. “While I have my blood that has antibodies, do some good for other people.”

Hernandez said he went to CSL Plasma. He said he was checked in by medical staff, watched a video, then he was made to answer a questionnaire.

“The nurse comes in and says ‘you checked off you have male to male sex,'” he said. “I said ‘yeah I did?'”

Hernandez said after he answered the question about his sexual status, staff treated him differently. He perceived the question as discrimination. Hernandez said he was questioned about his answer several times.

KTSM reached out to CSL Plasma for comment.

Its corporate office sent the following statement:

We are unable to comment on this specific matter given our interest in respecting donor privacy.

To be sure, we follow donor collection and deferral guidelines issued by a variety of regulatory authorities as the plasma we collect is made into therapies used by individuals suffering various rare and serious diseases in more than 100 countries.  

We are committed to ensuring the safety and quality of the plasma we collect as well as providing our donors with a positive experience.

After running in circles with medical staff, Hernandez said they finally pointed to guidelines issued by the FDA.

“This is an important time,” Hernandez said. “(The regulations) need to reexamined it needs to be reevaluated.”

KTSM did its own research to clarify regulations. The FDA writes that it has revisited its donor deferral recommendations to reduces the risk of transmitting HIV several times over the past ten years.

The FDA also had a deferral period of 12 months for what it calls “male to male sexual contact.”

In April 2020, guidelines changes in an effort to secure more blood donations. Male donors with a status of “male to male sexual contact” now have to wait three months.

“People still think  that HIV is going to affect the blood,” Hernandez said.  “There’s been so much progress  in treating HIV, we’re not in the 80s anymore.”

Hernandez pointing to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s when gay and bisexual men were prohibited from donating blood. 40 years later, with advancements in technology Hernandez said the stigma needs to end.

“I don’t think that when you’re in the ICU for two weeks that you’re gonna care that its a gay man’s blood,” Hernandez said.

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