A Virginia man reached out and donated a kidney to a stranger after learning that he would no longer be eligible to give blood donations because of his sexuality.
Barton Lynch, 24, told The Washingtonian that he recently entered into a same-sex relationship, a decision he learned would exclude him from donating blood to the Red Cross in the U.S. as a result of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy banning blood donations from men who have been in a same-sex relationship in the last year.
"Not that long ago I started dating guys, which now eliminates me from being able to donate blood. This frustrates me to no end, because I think it’s based on outdated science and outdated [HIV] scares," Lynch told the magazine.
"So I needed to find a way to give back that wasn’t giving blood. I know the need is there for kidney donations, so it seemed like a no-brainer—how could I not?" he added.
Lynch later learned that the surgery to transplant his kidney to its new owner was successful, but says he hasn't heard from the recipient yet.
"I don’t know anything about the other person," he told The Washingtonian. "I sent them a letter, and they can either read it or not, and reply or not. As far as I know, they have not done anything. But I did hear that it was a successful surgery."
The FDA eased restrictions on blood donations from gay men in late 2015, ending a lifetime ban on donations from men who have been in same-sex relationships and reducing the waiting time to one year. LGBT activists and Democratic lawmakers have since pushed for the ban to be thrown out altogether.
The agency most recently explored ending the ban in 2016, though no action was eventually taken. In a statement that year, the agency said that the scientific evidence was not strong enough to warrant the ban's end.
"We empathize with those who might wish to donate, but reiterate that at this time no one who needs blood is doing without it," FDA spokeswoman Tara Goodin said in 2016. "That being said, the FDA is committed to continuing to reevaluate its blood donor deferral policies as new scientific information becomes available."