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Family Outraged After Dying Man's Tissue Donation Rejected Because He's Gay

Wednesday Mar 14, 2018

A New Zealand family is outraged after learning the tissue donation from Corey Eteveneaux, who died after a car crash, was rejected because he is gay, Stuff reports.

After suffering a car crash, Eteveneaux, 24, was rushed to the hospital in critical condition and died four days later. It was then that his family learned his heart valves and corneas he planned to donate were not accepted because he is gay. A law in New Zealand states that men who have sex with other men cannot donate blood or tissue for 12 months, regardless of their sexual habits or safe-sex practices.

Eteveneaux's mother Cherie spoke with Stuff about the incident.

"I spoke with a woman from Organ Donation NZ and initially I thought she wanted to speak to me about Corey's tattoos and when the last time was he had work done," she explained. "Instead she told me they couldn't take Corey's heart valves or corneas because of his lifestyle. Eventually, she said it was because he's a homosexual man."

Eteveneaux was dating Daniel Jacobs, 29, for nearly two years. Cherie said the two were tested for HIV when they started dating and both were negative.

"Corey was a fit, healthy young man and I thought his heart valves would have been snapped up," she told Stuff. "It just doesn't make sense. There are people who are suffering out there and we could have potentially helped them.

"I know Corey would have loved to have helped someone, but some poor family has lost out," Cherie added.

Jacobs told Stuff the rejection of Eteveneaux's tissue was upsetting and difficult to understand at the time.

"I can't see why we as homosexual men need to be discriminated against for what we do behind closed doors," he said. "We're still humans, we're no different to any people walking down the street."

Dr. Richard Charlewood, New Zealand Blood Service's tissue bank medical director, explained to Stuff the law preventing gay men from donating blood and tissue did not target gay men but prevents individuals involved in "high-risk actives." The law also prevents sex workers and people who have sex with people from countries where HIV is prevalent within heterosexual communities, from donating tissue or blood for 12 months.

"When HIV was first identified, the single biggest risk reduction was achieved by targeting high-risk behavior, far more so than testing," he said

Charlewood said another review of the criteria is planned in the next few years.

"We do take into account that this is a sensitive issue," he told Stuff. "Where we do have the evidence and science behind it, we do cut these time frames down.

"If we do relax the criteria we have to be sure we're not increasing the risk to the recipient," Charlewood added. "First and foremost this is about the safety of the recipients who have no choice in it."


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