April 1, 2020 Staff Report
Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to revise its policy of turning away blood donations from gay and bisexual men in light of the long-term impacts of the coronavirus crisis on the nation’s blood supply.
The pair, who both represent portions of western Queens, wrote a letter to the agency calling for the FDA to change its current policy.
“This antiquated policy is not based on current science, stigmatizes the LGBTQIA+ community, and undermines crucial efforts to increase the nation’s blood supply as the United States grapples with the coronavirus crisis,” they wrote.
More than 4,000 blood drives across the United States have been canceled due to coronavirus, resulting in approximately 130,000 fewer donations, Maloney and Ocasio-Cortez said. The New York Blood Center alone, they said, reportedly canceled more than 600 blood drives, resulting in approximately 25,000 lost potential donations.
The pair argue that the current FDA policy unnecessarily restricts blood donations.
Revising the current restriction could result, they said, in as many as an estimated 615,000 additional pints of blood being donated each year.
FDA’s policy is not based on current science, the pair says. They argue that the policy prevents “low-risk individuals from contributing to our blood supply” and “is not based in science but appears to be modeled after other countries’ choices and fears.”
“In light of the potential long-term impacts the coronavirus outbreak may have on the nation’s blood supply, we urge FDA to act swiftly in revising its policy so every person who can safely donate blood in the United States has the opportunity to do so,” the Members wrote.
The pair requested a briefing from the FDA regarding its current policy, any plans to revise this policy, and efforts to ensure adequate supply as a result of the coronavirus crisis.