Sheryl Moore took some solace in knowing that her teenage son, who committed suicide, had helped save other lives by donating his organs.
Then she received word that her son’s eyes had been rejected for donation because he was gay.
According to this earlier KCCI report, AJ Betts took his own life in 2013 after being bullied at school for being different. He was teased for his sexual orientation, for being of mixed race and for having a cleft lip.
Betts had become an organ donor just months before his death. He was able to donate his heart, lungs, liver and kidney without an issue. Moore says her son’s heart went to a 14-year-old boy. But Food and Drug Administration guidelines are different for tissue donations, which includes the eyes.
The FDA prohibits tissue donations from donors it believes carry risk factors for communicable diseases, such as HIV. Men who have had sex with other men in the last five years are ruled ineligible for donating tissue, including eyes. Since Moore cannot confirm whether her son was sexually active or not, his eyes are not eligible for donation.
Moore feels the regulation is archaic. She hopes sharing her son’s story will help lead to a change in the FDA policy.