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Canada: Parents start campaign to remove ‘high risk’ status for gay organ donors, after son’s death

Joseph McCormick April 13, 2013
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A couple from Canada have started a petition to urge the government to change a federal law which classifies gay people as high-risk, when it comes to organ donation, following the death of their son.

Rocky Campana attempted suicide, and in August was removed from life support. His parents, Rob and Nancy began circulating the petition after Nancy said she believes her son’s organs were not accepted for donation because he was gay.

Recalling the conversation she had with the Trillium Gift of Live Network in Ontario, which faciiltates organ donation, Nancy said: “I was asked if he was a gay male and I said, ‘Yes.’ And I was asked if he was a sexually active gay male or if he had a partner and I said, ‘yes,'”

“When I got off the phone to relay that to both Rob and a lot of Rocky’s friends … many of them broke down,” she said. “The gay ones said, ‘Nancy, we can’t donate blood; they’re not going to take our organs’,” reports CBC News.

She said she was later told that his organs would not be used by the organ donation system.

Back in 2007, Health Canada changed its rules on organ donation, to label sexually active gay men high risk donors, alongside injection drug users, and other high-risk groups.

According to CBA, Health Canada’s policy reads that “a gay man who had practised abstinence for five years prior to organ donation would be considered an acceptable donor,” but, “a heterosexual man who has had a single sexual encounter with a male within the past five years would not be considered an acceptable donor.”

Nancy also said doctors had told her that trace amounts of drugs were found in Rocky’s system. The Trillium Chief Executive Ronnie Gavsie, denied that someone being gay would not ultimately rule someone out for organ donation.

“According to the Health Canada legislation, a man or woman who is gay would fall into the high-risk category. But that fact alone would not preclude them from being a donor,” Gavsie said.

The Campanas’ petition, which will be sent to the House of Commons, aims to change Health Canada’s rule which evaluates gay or lesbian people as “high risk”.

Rob Campana said: “That was Rocky. Injustices were big to him, so I think that we are really determined to try to get the word out to everyone.”

The change in rules from Health Canada caused controversy, and the Ontario Health Minister then said that the new rules excluding sexually active gay men from being considered as organ donors, were offensive.

More: Americas, blood, blood donation, campana, Canada, Canada, health canada, nancy campana, ontario, organ, organ donation, organ donor, petition, rob campana, rocky campana, suicide, trillium gift of life network

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