QUEER VOICES
08/15/2014 12:11 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Gay Teen's Organs Rejected Due To His Sexual Orientation

A portion of an organ donation from a deceased gay Iowa teen has been rejected due to his sexual orientation.

Alexander "AJ" Betts, Jr., committed suicide last year at the age of 16. He was outed as gay about a year and a half prior to his death and his mother said he faced years of bullying at Southeast Polk High School because of his sexual orientation and racial background.

Months before his death, Betts volunteered to be an organ donor, KCCI reported. His mother, Sheryl Moore, recently received a letter detailing where his organs went. His kidneys, liver and lungs were used; his heart was given to a 14-year-old boy. His eyes, however, were rejected.

“My initial feeling was just very angry because I couldn't understand why my 16-year-old son's eyes couldn't be donated just because he was gay,” Moore, who is unsure whether her son was sexually active or not, told KCCI.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states in its organ donation guidelines that "men who have had sex with another man in the preceding five years" "should" be considered "ineligible" due to the risk factor for HIV or Hepatitis B transmission. The FDA also bans gay men from donating blood, while a heterosexual person who may have been exposed to HIV would only be deferred for a year.

The American Medical Association has opposed the blood donation ban, which was put in place in 1983 as the AIDS crisis grew in the U.S. AMA board member Dr. William Kobler called the ban "discriminatory" and "not based on sound science" in a statement obtained by ABC News last year.

In July, a nationwide blood drive was set up to protest the FDA's ban on gay men, Time noted.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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