Gay Israeli men are to be allowed to donate blood for the first time – but only if they’ve not had sex for a year.
In what Israeli medics called a “ground-breaking initiative,” emergency service Magen David Adom (MDA) announced that Ministry of Health procedures had been changed to include donations from male members of the LGBT+ community.
However, they said this was only being allowed “under condition that 12 months have passed since donors had sexual relations,” and that the blood from LGBT men would have to be “kept in quarantine for four months”.
The work-around was concocted in consultation with MDA’s blood services, the Israeli Aids Task Force and Israel’s LGBT Task Force, while Knesset Member Meirav Ben-Ari leant support. Ben-Ari is heterosexual but, after failing to meet a man she loved, announced in 2016 that she was having a child by a gay friend.
According to the plan, the plasma units from gay Israeli men will be separated, frozen and kept in special cooling conditions (quarantine) for four months. At the end of that period, the donor will be asked to return to donate blood. Only when all tests of the new donation come back as negative for infectious diseases that may be transmitted in transfusion will the frozen units be approved as treatment for patients.
“I’m happy to be part of a solution,” said Ben-Ari. “For years, there was a frustrating situation in which LGBTs could not donate blood, and when they did, they had to lie about their sexual orientation. This is an important historic step towards equality.”
MDA’s director of blood service Professor Eilar Shinar said: “The new procedure, in addition to the revamping of tests conducted on blood units for the identification of diseases that may be transferred by transfusions, enables us to bridge the gap between protecting the safety of blood units and the willingness of the LGBT community to take part in saving lives.”