Pressure Grows to Let Gay Men Donate Blood

The nation’s blood supply could see a significant increase if long-standing donor policies barring gay and bisexual men were eliminated, a new study says.

The study from a California institute projected that if the blood donor policy for gay and bisexual men was eliminated, these men could provide an extra 615,300 pints of blood a year.

Such an increase in the blood supply could save up to 1.8 million lives, according to extrapolations made by study leaders Ayako Miyashita and Gary J. Gates of the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at the University of California School of Law in Los Angeles.

If the donor policy was kept but changed — permitting blood donations after one year or five years of sexual abstinence — men who have sex with men (MSM) could donate around 300,000 pints a year, respectively, the study said. About 9.2 million Americans currently donate about 15.7 million pints of blood per year, according to the American Red Cross.