Lexington native Barton Lynch is making national news with his efforts to change an FDA policy that will not allow him to donate blood because he currently is in a relationship with another man.
This week, mtv.com reported that Lynch, 24, donated a kidney in May because he “wanted to make a difference in someone else’s life” and was prohibited from donating blood as a result of the FDA policy. There are not similar federal prohibitions on kidney donations.
“I am hoping to make policy change and raise awareness of this issue. It’s a form of protest to this not-scientifically based ban on gay people giving blood,” Lynch, told the Herald-Leader Thursday. He moved from Lexington to Washington, D.C. in 2017 to work as a researcher.
Lynch said he donated a kidney in May on the open market so that anyone who needed it could receive it.
He said he donated blood at Lexington’s Kentucky Blood Center while attending both Lexington Catholic High School and Transylvania University because at that time he was not dating men. But Lynch said he had to find another way to continue to help others after he started dating both men and women one year ago.
Under a Food and Drug Administration policy, all men who have sex with men can not donate blood unless they “refrain from same-sex intimacy for 12 months,” the mtv.com article said. Lynch is now in a relationship with another man.
Lynch said he had heard from several Kentuckians since the Transylvania University Alumni Facebook page posted the MTV article Wednesday with the comment, “Even in his student days Barton Lynch ‘16 was always thinking of others first.”
“People have been very kind and very supportive and generous with their words,” Lynch said.
There have been nationwide efforts to raise awareness about the ban.
The website bigthink.com recently reported that seven 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are against the ban.
The American Public Health Association in 2015 issued a statement that said “such a recommendation continues to prevent low-risk individuals from contributing to our blood supply and maintains discriminatory practices based on outdated stereotypes. Instead, we strongly urge FDA to issue guidance that is grounded in science to ensure a safe and robust blood supply. “
U.S.. House Democrats in 2016 unsuccessfully tried to lift the ban.
Sean Cahill, director of health policy research at the Fenway Institute, was quoted in the mtv article saying that the guidelines are a remnant of the HIV/AIDS panic in the 1980s.
Lynch said he recovered quickly from the kidney donation surgery. His physician told mtv.com that chances that a kidney recepient would contract HIV from a man sexually active with another man is “infinitesimally” small.
“There is need in the world for this to happen, so it felt like a no-brainer to me,” Lynch told the Herald-Leader.