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Celebrity highlights restrictions for gay men to donate convalescent plasma

Posted at 6:05 AM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 09:30:39-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The San Diego Blood Bank is still dealing with a convalescent plasma shortage. The plasma can be used at local hospitals to help fight COVID-19, but donations from gay men could be turned away if they don’t meet certain requirements.

The donation restrictions received national attention after talk show host Andy Cohen says he was turned away from donating the plasma for being gay.

The local blood bank explained the restrictions to ABC 10News. The blood bank’s chief medical officer, Dr. Mark Edmunds, says the restrictions are in place by the FDA.

He says the FDA actually eased some of the restrictions in April of this year, which was an update from a 2015 change. The FDA says the guidelines exist to protect the safety of the blood and plasma supply.

In April, the FDA provided the updated guidelines to allow for a larger donor pool in response to the COVID- 19 pandemic. Before the guideline modifications, a gay man could only donate blood if he abstained from sex for a year. Now, the abstinence time frame is three months.

Similar changes were made for people who recently received tattoos or piercings or for travel and residences deferrals related to malaria.

Dr. Edmunds says there are studies happening right now to see if and how the donor pool can be expanded even further.

The blood bank adopted the FDA’s new regulations on July 31st. Dr. Edmunds says the staff at the blood bank are also working on making donations more inclusive non-binary or transgender individuals.

If you’d like more information or would like to donate blood or plasma, you can find more information by clicking here.