Donor Network Right to Refuse Organs from Homosexual, Says Christian Doc
By Mary Rettig
December 7, 2005
(AgapePress) - Friends and family of a Tucson man are crying discrimination after the homosexual man's organs were rejected by the Donor Network of Arizona. However, a Kansas surgeon who works in organ transplantation says the decision was a good one.
Albert Soto, 51, intended to donate his eyes and other tissues after death, but a spokesman from the Network says the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has established guidelines allowing centers to reject donations from men who have had sex with men in the last five years. Dr. David Pauls, a spokesman for the Christian Medical Association, says those guidelines are needed regardless -- even if the donor is HIV negative, as in Soto's case.
"Number one, HIV in early stages cannot be detected on testing; it takes a little bit [of time] there," Pauls explains. "But even if he's HIV negative, there's other infectious diseases that are fairly common within the homosexual population -- particularly hepatitis, which can be a very deadly complication in somebody who receives a transplant, and that sometimes also can be missed by screening."
Pauls says the organ donation and transplant business is heavily reliant on trust. "Trust is probably one of the most valuable commodities we have," he says. "If I ... as a physician am going to be doing a transplant, I'm want to do everything I can to make sure that the organs or the tissue that I'm transplanting is safe and is not going to cause other problems or other diseases in that patient."
Transplant patients, he says, obviously should have the same concerns. In Soto's case, Pauls says the man's risky sexual behavior makes using his organs a high risk for the recipient, who otherwise might be put in a position of being exposed to deadly infections. Meanwhile, Soto's family is petitioning officials in Tucson to change the CDC guidelines. The man died after suffering a stroke on Thanksgiving Day.