Orlando officials recently confirmed that 50 people were killed and another 53 were injured earlier Sunday morning in what is thought to be a terror attack and the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
During a press conference on CNN Sunday morning, Dr. Michael Cheatham of the Orlando Health Regional Medical Center said, “Blood is a wonderful gift. You can work through the local blood banks to donate, and that would be a tremendous help. ”
Given the location of the shooting — a gay nightclub — the Hill reports “some have highlighted the irony that many gay men cannot help their friends and family who may have been victims of the attack, which occurred during LGBT Pride Month.” There has also been a firestorm of backlash on twitter regarding these rules.
50 dead, 50 wounded at a gay club in Orlando. They need blood donations. Gay men are still not allowed to donate.
— Jay Brannan (@jaybrannan) June 12, 2016
Huge awful irony: gay men can’t give blood after Orlando’s gay night club shooting because of the “Gay Blood Ban.” https://t.co/AERLN5w30s
— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) June 12, 2016
There was a federal ban enacted in response to the AIDS crisis during the Reagan administration that prevented gay and bi-sexual from giving blood. While the Obama Administration has taken steps to ease the restriction in recent years, some say it does not go far enough. According to new FDA guidelines, gay and bisexual men are now allowed to donate blood, so long as they have not had sexual contact with another man in the past 12-months.
However, at least one Florida blood bank says it is stepping up and will accept donations from gay and bi-sexual men in the after of the recent attacks. The Verge reports “the FDA’s policy is guidance that local and private bodies aren’t required to follow.” Thus, at least one blood bank, identified as OneBlood, reportedly announced they will accept blood from gay-men because it is “in crisis need for all donors, and will be accepting all donors.”