In December of last year, the FDA announced that it was lifting its 32-year ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men — but only for those who are sexually abstinent for the 12 months prior to giving blood. "While gay and bisexual men will be eligible to donate their blood and help save lives under this 12 month deferral, countless more will continue to be banned solely on the basis of their sexual orientation and without medical or scientific reasoning," the National Gay Blood Drive said of the FDA's move in a statement. Now, the agency's ban is under scrutiny again after yesterday's shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, which killed 49 people — updated from 50, to exclude the shooter — and injured at least 53. The blood donation organization OneBlood reports that thousands of people flocked to its central Florida centers to give blood in the wake of the tragedy. Sexually active gay and bi men, however, were excluded from donating to help the survivors, which sparked outrage and frustration.
Overwhelmed by the influx of would-be donors, OneBlood has asked people to make appointments over the coming days; the organization is still in need of AB plasma and O negative and O positive blood. The Orlando Sentinel reports that although the FDA lifted its lifetime ban on gay and bi male donors last year, OneBlood still does not take blood from gay or bi donors who have ever been sexually active. We've reached out to OneBlood for comment and will update if we hear back.