I was taken aback by your editorial that qualification for donating blood should be based on not hurting someone’s feelings.

The people in charge of the Red Cross blood banks and the Federal Drug Administration people who regulate them no doubt remember the way their organizations were optimistic about the lack of a threat from AIDS in the blood supply. They also no doubt remember the deaths, lawsuits and strongly worded condemnations in the media when they were proved wrong. Since the first article of the Hippocratic Oath is “First, do no harm,” it is hardly wrong of them to be cautious. Your selection of hemophiliacs as an example of a high risk group for HIV that is not stigmatized for a high risk is perhaps the worst straw man I have ever seen. They were wiped out by HIV in the pooled plasma used to make the antihemophilic factor they were injected with. No one in their right mind would consider them as donors because of their health issues. You imply that piercings and tattoos do not disqualify. They do, for a period based on proven risk factors.

I and my family are on a lifetime restriction from donating because we were in Europe during the Mad Cow outbreak. There is a long list of other permanent and temporary restrictions.

The editorial makes no mention of any study that shows a improved situation with regard to HIV to justify a change in policy. If there are facts, please state them.

Thomas Heyns


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