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Man with rare blood type has called for New Zealand laws to be changed

Warren Dempsey-Coy has been with his husband for 34 years but is still unable to donate blood

By Steve Brown

A man with a rare blood type has called for the New Zealand laws to be changed to allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

Currently, the rules in New Zealand only allow men who have had sex with other men to donate the needed blood if they have been celibate for 12 months, a similar rule introduced in many countries including America, as of this year, in the UK the ban is only for three months.

Barring gay men from donating blood was introduced worldwide during the 1980s Aids epidemic in a bid to stop the transmission of the virus.

However, Warren Dempsey-Coy not only has been with his husband for 34 years but also has the extremely rare blood type O-Negative where only nine per cent of New Zealand people have.

But because of his sexuality, Dempsey-Coy is not able to donate any of his rare blood type – which can be given to any person – despite the HIV virus being able to be transmitted through both gay or straight patients.

Right now, the New Zealand blood service is down to its last patch of the needed blood type and despite concerns that the virus can be transmitted, all blood is tested before.

While speaking to The Project, Dempsey-Coy revealed he used to donate a lot of his blood, up until the Aids epidemic.

He said: “As soon as I was of age to donate blood, I was donating and that’s when I was told I was 0-Negative and by doing that and asking me if I would go on registrar of people who could be contacted in the case of emergency, if I was going anywhere I had to notify them where I’d be so they could contact me in a case of an emergency transfusion.

“As soon as the HIV epidemic started, we were all asked to stop donating which I did.”

When asked whether he can understand why the ban is still in place, he said it is “totally inappropriate” as all the blood gets tested.

He continued: “I’ve gotta to say, I think that’s totally inappropriate. Every blood gets tested regardless of sexuality or ethnicity or anything else like that. Blood is blood. It’s all tested.

“It shouldn’t be because you’re homosexual, heterosexual. It’s blood. Everything should be tested the same.

“Donating blood is giving somebody else the opportunity to benefit in a life-threatening situation. You know, we all need it.

“When you read they are so desperate for blood, I’m like I can give my blood, but they won’t accept it. I sort of struggle, because I’m healthy.

“I’m a married man. My blood is good blood. Why won’t they take it?”