While I don’t necessarily consider myself a nerdfighter (although I have no problem with people that do, and that I think that they, in general, stand for good principles and do pretty good work), I was pretty excited to see that Hank Green did a SciShow about blood banking!
My only nitpick was that he left out a couple of interesting historical facts:
- According to my blood bank textbook, the first blood transfusion was actually done a couple hundred years earlier, in 1492 on Pope Innocent VII- three men were were bled and transfused into the sick pope, but unfortunately, all four of the men died.
- The current model we use for blood banking should probably be attributed to Dr. Charles Drew (the first director of the Red Cross blood bank director) who developed techniques in World War II for blood banking that we still use today (obviously there was a pretty big demand for blood in a really bloody war).
So that being said, I would definitely check out the comments on the youtube video itself. There seems to be a pretty staunch debate (if you can really even call it that. Most people seem to be on the same side of this issue with only a few naysayers) about MSM (men who have sex with men) being indefinitely deferred from donating.
It’s worth noting that in 2010, AABB, the Red Cross, and ABC came togather and issued a joint statement to the FDA regarding the scientifically unwarranted lifetime deferment of MSM blood donors. Other than the FDA, these are the other big players in determining blood banking and transfusion practices in the united states.
You can read their joint statement here.
Also, for fairness, you can read the FDA’s ‘response’ or stance on MSM donors here.
As a member of the LGBTQIA community and as a blood banker, I personally find that this whole thing is another example of institutionalized homophobia. While I will grant you that this ban may have been prudent in the mid 80s, we have come a long way since then with our ability to both detect and treat HIV/AIDS. With NAT testing, the classic “window period” is shrinking dramatically, and MSM are arguably not even the group at the highest risk for this disease (that would be African American women).
However, because the FDA is the only major organization dragging it’s heels on this issue, I urge you to contact your congressperson, your senator, or get in touch with the FDA directly.
A little digging with the google machine can bring up multiple studies that essentially reinforce that this policy is antiquated and promotes discrimination and homophobia. But even more importantly, it disqualifies perfectly acceptable donors, many of whom could be saving lives with their donations.
While there may be a future in artificially made blood being used for transfusions, that time is still a very long way off, and blood donations are always needed and appreciated. Donating save lives and expanding the donor pool to new, perfectly acceptable donors is a net positive in my book.
So yeah, that’s just my two cents. I’d love to hear what others think!