Gay Redding man shows up to give blood, denied for first time

Gay man denied blood donation for first time due to federal ban

REDDING, Calif. - As he expected, Michael Vasquez of Redding was turned away from donating blood on Friday.

He said he had to give up his opportunity to save lives. The 28-year-old said he has been donating blood for more than a decade.

But since 1977, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned donations from men who have had sex with other men. They stated there is a risk of exposure to infectious diseases.

Vasquez says it is based on invalid stereotypes. At BloodSource in Redding, he was told he couldn't donate.

BloodSource officials told KRCR News Channel 7 that regardless of their personal friendships with Vasquez, they are bound by national FDA policies.

Vasquez said things have changed in his personal life recently and he had to check that box on the pre-donation evaluation, thus permanently denying himself from donating.

Vasquez said he needed to speak the truth when he stepped into the assessment room.

"I've taken pride in donating blood for ten years. I've given almost ten gallons," said Vasquez. "I won't reach that milestone now because I was honest about who I am and what I've done."

Meanwhile, across the country, activists like Michael are hoping to end the ban on gay blood donations with a national movement.

The blood drive targeted 53-donor sites nationally.

The only large, organized movement on Friday was in Los Angeles.

Vasquez said he will continue to volunteer his time while his blood is off-limits. He hopes others will step forward and donate for as long as he legally cannot.

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