Lawmakers Seek Change in Policy on Organ Donation From Gays

Members of Congress have seized on the rejection of donated eye tissue from a deceased gay teen to insist that the federal government change its policies.

“A.J.’s story is a particularly poignant example of the harms of our policies governing blood, tissue and organ donation by” men who have sex with men (MSM), said a letter sent Monday to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell by 69 members of Congress, including Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Tom Harkin of Iowa.

They were referring to Alexander “A.J.” Betts Jr., an Iowa high school student who took his own life in July 2013. He had been outed as gay in 2012, and his family believes he was bullied about it.

Months before he died, the congressional letter said, A.J. had decided to be an organ donor “and his mother, Sheryl Moore, received some comfort from the fact that his heart, liver, lungs and kidneys helped to save other lives, including that of another teenager.”