The American Red Cross collects blood during a California blood drive in 2013. By the early afternoon on June 12, hours after a gunman slaughtered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, hundreds of sympathizers had lined up to donate blood to the 53 young men and women who had survived the shooting. There were many gay men who would have liked to help but couldn't. Last December, the Food and Drug Administration lifted its lifetime ban on blood donations by men who have sex with men (often referred to as MSM). Gay men could now give blood, the agency announced--but only if they've been celibate for a year beforehand.
Boston researchers want to use donated plasma from men who have recovered from coronavirus on 220 patients, so doctors can study whether it helps fight the virus. Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute are ramping up the convalescent plasma ESCAPE trial (the Evaluation of the SARS-CoV-2 Antibody-containing Plasma thErapy) -- the first-of-its-kind in the Boston area -- and they're putting out a call for male plasma donors. "There's an opportunity potentially to really help the life of someone else who's still battling the virus," Dr. Richard Kaufman, medical director of Brigham's Transfusion Service, said at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center on Wednesday. The potential of this therapy is "huge," said Dr. Clifton Mo, oncologist at Dana-Farber.
This past June, the U.S. experienced its biggest mass shooting to date, when a lone gunman opened fire in an Orlando nightclub. Over 100 people were shot, 49 fatally. In the aftermath of the shooting at the club -- a popular hangout spot for the local LGBT community -- thousands of people lined up around the block to donate blood. But even as outpourings of sympathy and condolences were sent to members of the gay community, hundreds of gay and bisexual men who wished to donate were turned away from local blood banks. While many people were outraged by this turn of events, the fact is that gay men have been legally barred from donating blood in the US for the past 30 years.
Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. As researchers test to see whether experimental plasma transfusions from recovered COVID-19 patients can help those who've contracted the coronavirus, Microsoft is launching a "plasmabot" to help make it easier for potential donors. The Redmond, Wa.-based tech giant, which is part of the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, is providing the technology behind the website and the bot itself to look for plasma donors.
Donating blood is universal good, but not a universal right -- and there's a lot of debate about whether it should be. Sunday morning marked the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, with at least 50 people killed and another 53 wounded at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida. In the aftermath of the massacre, officials appealed to the public for blood donations to fill a dire need. But advocates on social media and beyond were quick to point out that many queer friends, partners and peers of those injured in the shooting could not donate blood. This is due to controversial, longstanding restrictions on giving, directed at men who have sex with men.