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Gay Teen's Tissue Donation Denied

Updated: Tuesday, August 19 2014, 07:35 AM CDT
DES MOINES, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- The story of one Des Moines mom has captured the attention of the entire country.

After her 16 year old son A.J. committed suicide in 2013 after what she believed to be bullying over his sexuality, she gave his remains for donation. The donor network took his kidneys, liver, heart and lungs - but that's all he could give.

The organ donor network wouldn't take her son's eyes, bones, and other tissue, because of his sexuality.

Sadness and heartbreak soon turned into frustration and confusion for Moore.

“My initial feeling was just was very angry,” says Moore. “I didn't understand why my 16 year old's sons eyes couldn't be donated just because he's gay.”

It's all a part of a Food and Drug Administration Policy, dating back to the 1980's.

In an email to FOX 28/CBS 2 today, the FDA says "regulation of tissues, such as cornea, bone, ligament, skin...establishes layers of safeguards that are meant to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis."

Moore is fighting for a change to the policy.

“This is archaic and it is silly that people wouldn’t get the live saving assistance that they need,” Moore says.

Over at the Iowa Donor Network, where reminders of that special gift of life after death hang on the walls, Tony Hakes says they applaud Moore for her fight.

“We fully support the family that's doing this,” Hakes says. “The young donor is a hero in our eyes.”

Hakes stopped short of endorsing a full repeal of the policy.

“We have to adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the FDA,” he says.

Donna Red Wing with the advocacy group One Iowa wasn't as restrained.

“The FDA should revisit their policy,” Red Wing says. “It seems to be 30 years too old. Even in death, this child is neither respected or accepted…even in death.”

Several organizations, including the Red Cross, the American Medical Association and the American Association of Blood Banks have also asked the FDA to reconsider its policy.Gay Teen's Tissue Donation Denied


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