1 min

Gay men can’t donate stem cells either

A Vancouver gay man says he was surprised to find an ad for stem cell and bone marrow donors in the men’s bathroom of a gay club Feb 6, but decided to apply anyway.

The rejection letter didn’t take long.

“The moment that I got this slim envelope I knew,” says Charles Troster. “I felt like laughing in their faces and raising my middle finger.”

Troster believes the OneMatch network rejected him because he answered “yes” to having had sex, even once, with another man.

OneMatch referred Xtra West’s questions to its parent organization, Canadian Blood Services (CBS).

“The Canadian Blood Services’ policy with OneMatch is the same as our blood donation policy,” says Angie Gaddy, spokesperson for CBS. “That is, a man who has sex with another man, even once, since 1977 is indefinitely deferred from donating blood or donating stem cells with OneMatch.”

Gaddy admits it was a mistake to run the ad in Celebrities’ bathroom.

She says the ad was placed there by OMD, a national buying agency, as part of a campaign to attract young Canadians in restaurants and nightclubs. “This particular ad, it was not mentioned or listed as Celebrities Nightclub. It was just mentioned as a nightclub,” she says.

“We definitely apologize for his experience and it was not intended to be placed there,” she adds.

Xtra West’s repeated efforts to reach someone at OMD capable of commenting on the matter were unsuccessful by press time.

James Steck, promotions manager at Celebrities, says New Ad Media rents the wall space in the bathroom, and the club has no input into what is advertised there.

“While Celebrities markets itself and supports the gay community, our clientele is not exclusively gay. If someone else saw the ad and responded, and in the end it saved someone’s life, then it would be worth it to the organization to have it placed here,” Steck says.

Troster says he decided to donate in part because his roommate is suffering from lymphoma. He believes patients miss out when gay men are banned from donating blood, organs, bone marrow and stem cells.

“Taking a transfusion from someone in a higher risk category could still be a more livable option for some patients than having no transfusion at all,” he says.

CBS removed the ad from Celebrities on Feb 27.