Update: Blood Donation Policy Was Not Changed

by Emily Shire

Update: Reports that policies were changed to allow blood donations from men who have had sex with men are false. According to Susan Forbes from OneBlood, the organization must follow all requirements in place by the FDA. The FDA formerly had a lifetime ban on donations from men who have had sex with men, but it was recently changed to a ban on donations from men who have had sex with men in the past 12 months. OneBlood is still working to implement that policy. "We’re working as quickly as possible behind the scenes to implement the new policy, and we understand how people want to be able to help, and we thank them, but we have to make sure we have every thing right," Forbes tells Bustle.

On Sunday, OneBlood tweeted: "All FDA guidelines remain in effect for blood donation. There are false reports circulating that FDA rules were being lifted. Not true."

The incorrect rumor that OneBlood had bypassed the FDA policy started on social media and via a statement an Orlando commissioner allegedly gave to MSNBC confirming the break from policy, as reported by Mashable.

In a press conference Monday morning, Orlando police confirmed that 49 people had been killed and 53 injured early Sunday morning at Orlando's Pulse gay nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history. After opening fire on the crowd, an individual named Omar Mateen had taken hostages and was ultimately killed in a stand-off with police; Mateen had called 911 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State shortly before the massacre. Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer declared a state of emergency, and the massacre is being investigated as an act of terrorism.

The victims' names were released by the city of Orlando on its website as their next of kin were informed. Here are some ways to help the Orlando shooting victims and their loved ones; you can also donate to the victims' fund, as well as express your solidarity with the LGBTQ community by posting a tribute online. You can also attend a vigil near you to honor the victims.

Earlier: In light of the attack on Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, which has resulted in at least 50 deaths and is considered the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, OneBlood, a non-profit that oversees blood banks, announced it was looking for donors. Flooded with responses, the organization then asked donors to set up appointments, and return later in the week to donate blood. "The sentiment is understood and appreciated, but it's a little too much, too soon," OneBlood spokesperson Pat Michaels told the Orlando Sentinel.

Since last year, the FDA recommended that gay and bisexual men be banned for life from donating blood. That policy was implemented in 1983 during the advent of the AIDS crisis. In December 2015, the FDA lifted the lifetime ban, but still recommended that men be barred from donating blood for "12 months since the last sexual contact with another man." In effect, this meant that gay and bisexual men would have to abstain from sexual relations with other men for a full year to be allowed to donate blood.

“While many gay and bisexual men will be eligible to donate their blood and help save lives under this 12-month deferral, countless more will continue to be banned solely on the basis of their sexual orientation and without medical or scientific reasoning,” the National Gay Blood Drive said in a statement.

To find out more about donating for OneBlood in the Orlando area, call 1-888-936-6283 or visit its website.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article and its headline stated that OneBlood had amended its policy and would accept donations from gay men. That information was false and untrue. Bustle regrets this error. The post has been updated.