Florida Man Claims His Plasma Donation Was Refused Because He's Gay

After recovering from COVID-19 and having antibodies for the disease, Florida man Jorge Diaz wanted to help others survive the virus, but says he was denied the chance to donate plasma because of his sexuality.

"They called me to the little office in the bus and said, 'I'm sorry we cannot receive your blood,'" Diaz said to NBC 6 South Florida.

Diaz had said 'yes' in the section of the OneBlood plasma donation form that asked if he had engaged in sex with a man in the past three months.

"When I left that place, I felt contaminated, discriminated. Not because I'm a gay person, but because they're gonna imply that I have HIV," explained Diaz.

The original ban on blood donations from homosexual men was written when there was an HIV epidemic in the U.S. and the virus was not easily diagnosed or treated.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in April that in light of the pandemic it was relaxing its restrictions on gay men being allowed to donate blood. Around 2,700 donations went to waste in March in the U.S. due to the criteria of donating.

Previously, if a man had engaged in sex with a man within the last 12 months he would not be allowed to donate, now he needs wait three months after a sexual relationship with another man to donate.

"They have to rewrite the rules. It is wrong," Diaz said.

According to Peter Marks, Director for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA, there are more than a 1,000 plasma units being used per day in the U.S. There is a huge demand for plasma to treat COVID-19.

"Convalescent plasma is going to become in short supply if we don't have more donors," said Marks. "It's becoming one of the frontline therapies that people look to when people end up in the hospital and start to develop problems breathing."

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is among those who have donated plasma to the coronavirus cause.

"It's important for everybody who has defeated COVID-19 in their own bodies to help in the COVID-19 fight for others," he said. "I wanted to donate my plasma to see if I could, god willing, help save a life with the antibodies that my body has created to help fight COVID-19."

It takes around two hours to first donate plasma, and roughly 90 minutes for each donation thereafter. Plasma is collected the same way as a blood donation, with a needle placed into a vein in the arm. Blood is drawn and the plasma is later separated from the blood donation.

Other reasons people may be refused for giving plasma donations include having malaria, being pregnant, having recently traveled abroad, and age.

Newsweek has contacted OneBlood for further comment.

Blood plasma sits in a pouch
Blood plasma sits in a pouch at a newly opened plasma donor centre in London on June 11, 2020. It is part of an ongoing trial to see if the antibodies in the plasma from survivors of COVID-19 can be used to treat those currently battling to recover from the virus. Ben STANSALL/ AFP/Getty Images