During the month of June, we show our support for and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. As we continue to raise awareness, improve the attitudes of society and encourage inclusiveness, it is important to recognize that members of the LGBTQ+ community are making life saving contributions every day. Here we’re shedding some light on some of the most common questions and misconceptions that we hear. Some answers may surprise you!
Did you know LGBTQ+ can be organ donors?
That’s right! The eligibility question comes up often. Your sexual orientation or gender identity does NOT prevent an individual from be a living or deceased organ donor. Everyone, including all who identify as LGBTQ+ can register as an organ donor. Donor compatibility is based on pre-existing medical conditions at the time of donation.
While some members of the community may not be able to donate blood or tissue, there are no limitations for organ donation. The FDA regulates eye and tissue donation and there is work currently underway to include all members of the LGBTQ+ community as eye and tissue donors. Currently, males engaged in male-to-male sexual activity in the last 5 years cannot donate cornea or tissue.
Does sexual orientation prevent an individual from receiving an organ transplant?
No! A person’s sexual orientation or gender identity has no impact on whether or not they can receive an organ transplant. As long as they are evaluated by a transplant center and determined to be fit to go through the transplant process, they can be considered as a candidate. Only medical and logistical factors are used in organ matching process.
What is the HOPE Act?
The HIV Organ Policy Equity Act (HOPE Act) was enacted on November 21, 2013. On that day, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revised the section of the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network (OPTN) policy that previously prevented the recovery of HIV+ organs. In November 2015, HHS made OPTN policy and system changes to implement the HOPE Act that enables transplanting organs from HIV+ donors into HIV+ recipients. Transplanting organs from HIV+ donors into HIV+ candidates shortens the waitlist, increasing the organ availability from HIV- donors for HIV- recipients. In addition, it gives hope and comfort to the family of donors, knowing their loved ones have saved the lives of other HIV+ patients.
What gender designation should you use when registering?
Please confirm when registering to be a donor that you are using your current legal gender designation – whether it is your birth gender or the result of a legal change in gender marker. Keeping your gender designation consistent on your documents including your driver license and passport is important in order to have your decision honored. If the gender listed on the donor registration and current legal documents do not match, the registration cannot legally be considered a match and will not provide consent for donation for a potential donor. In Colorado, Jude’s Law allows transgender and nonbinary Coloradans of any age to have accurate, reflective identification documents (IDs).
As someone who identifies as LGBTQ+ and has registered as a donor, what else can I do?
Please share your decision with your friends and your community. This may encourage them to sign up as a donor reminding them that one donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and save and heal more than 75 lives through tissue donation. You can also get involved with Donor Alliance’s Advocates for Life volunteer program and join us in the donation awareness efforts as we educate and inspire others to register to be organ, eye and tissue donors.
If you’re ready to register your decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor, don’t wait! Register online today at DonateLifeColorado.org or when you obtain or renew your driver license or state ID!