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American Red Cross partners with activist organization "Blood is Blood," hosts blood donation clinics for World Blood Donor Day

The charities joining together to advocate for the change of a 1980's AIDS-epidemic era law prohibiting sexually active gay men from donating blood (three month window).
Red Cross says blood donations drop during summer, offering new incentive
blood donation
Posted at 5:16 AM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 09:39:41-04

Time to roll up your sleeves and save lives— the American Red Cross is collecting blood in honor of World Blood Donor Day.

The charity hosted its first of many blood drives on Wednesday, June 15th, in collaboration with the Western New York charity "Blood is Blood."

"We started this work because of an experience I had back in 2015. I went to donate blood, and I was turned away. I didn't know why. I didn't know how. Later I found it out it was because there's a law preventing sexually active gay men from giving blood," said Jordan James, the founder of Blood is Blood.

James and his group have been staunch advocates against the 1984 United States Food and Drug Administration policy banning blood donations by men who identify as LGBTQ+ and discole to having sexual relations with a member of the same sex.

“For a man who has sex with another man during the past three months - defer them for three months from their most recent sexual contact."
- United States Food & Drug Administration.

While that policy is no longer a complete ban, there is a three month pause period between a person who discloses sexual acts can donate. That shift happened over the pandemic.

"The law only got changed when the need for blood became so strong. When I found out this, I felt like a second-class citizen. I was disgusted. Especially when I found out that there was such a shortage, and so many people wrongly held out from donation," said James.

The group has partnered with Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) to advance legislation to rid the country of what James calls, "ancient."

"The current policy is overly stringent given the scientific evidence, advanced testing methods, and safety and quality control measures within FDA-qualified blood donation centers; stigmatizes members of the LGBTQI+ community; and needlessly restricts the blood supply while our nation combats a critical blood shortage and the COVID-19 pandemic."
- Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26)

7 News reached out to Congressman Higgins (NY-26) for further comment. He was unavailable at the time of the drive.

"Our goal is just to bring awareness, to do everything we can to help spread the word," said James.

The American Red Cross of Western New York hosted this year's annual "Blood is Blood" drive.

"Blood is something we need. 1 in 4 people will need blood at some point in their lives. We are here to advocate so that people step up and donate. You never know who could use blood. 1 donation can save up to three lives," said Hanna Malak, the Regional Donor Services Director of the Western New York Red Cross.

In addition to the Blood is Blood drive, you can participate in blood donations Tuesday through June 30 for a chance to win a VIP trip to Graceland.

The Red Cross reports blood donations decline in late spring and early summer – especially during holiday weeks, like Memorial Day and Independence Day – but the need for blood and platelet transfusions never take a break.

As a thank you, donors who give blood in the month of June will automatically be entered for a chance to win a VIP trip to Graceland for two. In honor of the new Baz Luhrmann film, Elvis, this prize includes round-trip airfare to Memphis, plus a three-night stay at The Guest House and Elvis Entourage VIP tour, courtesy of Graceland, a custom-wrapped Gibson Epiphone guitar and more.

Those who donate June 1-30 will also receive a $5 e-gift card to a merchant of their choice.

World Blood Donor Day, June 14, recognizes the importance of a safe and stable blood supply and the donors who make it possible. Nearly 2.5 million people volunteer to give lifesaving blood and platelets every year with the Red Cross.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities:

Allegany

  • Alfred
    • 6/17: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., Alfred State College, Student Leadership Center, Small Event Space, Third Floor, 10 Upper College Drive
  • Canaseraga
    • 6/30: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., American Legion, 83 West Main St.
  • Cuba
    • 6/15: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., Cuba Library, 39 E Main St.
  • Fillmore
    • 6/21: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., Fillmore Volunteer Fire Department, 24 South Genesee Street
  • Wellsville
    • 6/23: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Wellsville Fire Department, 40 S Main Street
  • Whitesville
    • 6/17: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Whitesville Fire Hall, 496 Main Street

Cattaraugus

  • Allegany
    • 6/16: 12 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Fireman’s Community Center, 188 W Main St.
  • Conewango Valley
    • 6/27: 3 p.m. - 7 p.m., Conewango Fire Hall, 12447 Northeast Road
  • Ellicottville
    • 6/17: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., St Paul’s Lutheran Church, 6360 Route 242 East
  • Gowanda
    • 6/29: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., American Legion Post 409, 100 Legion Drive
  • Little Valley
    • 6/24: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., LVCS Alumni In Memory, 207 Rock City Street

Chautauqua

  • Cassadaga
    • 6/30: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Cassadaga Fire Hall, 22 Mill Street
  • Dunkirk
    • 6/20: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., Blessed Mary Angela Roman Catholic Parish, 324 Townsend Street
  • Fredonia
    • 6/23: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Christ Community Church, 219 Berry Road
  • Lakewood
    • 6/16, 6/23, 6/30: 12:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Chautauqua Mall, 318 E Fairmount Ave.
  • Mayville
    • 6/16: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., Lakeside Park Community Center, 50 West Lake Rd
  • Portland
    • 6/28: 12 p.m. - 4 p.m., Portland Fire Department, 6481 W Main Rd

Erie

  • Amherst
    • 6/15, 6/22, 6/29 : 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., Boulevard Mall, 730 Alberta Drive
    • 6/24, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Boulevard Mall, 730 Alberta Drive
    • 6/23: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., Main Transit Fire Department, 6777 Main St
  • Angola
    • 6/29: 2 p.m. - 6 p.m., First Congregational United Church of Christ, 132 N Main St
  • Blasdell
    • 6/28: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Neighborhood Health Center, 4233 Lake Ave.
  • Buffalo
    • 6/15: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Mercy Hospital, 565 Abbott Rd
    • 6/15: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., WNY Chapter, 786 Delaware Ave
    • 6/18: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Johnnie B Wiley Pavilion, 1100 Jefferson Ave
    • 6/23: 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., Veterans Affairs Hospital, 3495 Bailey Ave
    • 6/24: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., West Side Community Services, 161 Vermont Street
    • 6/30: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Dudley Branch Library, 2010 South Park Ave.
  • Cheektowaga
    • 6/14-6/16, 6/20-23, 6/27-30: 12:15 p.m. - 7:15 p.m., Union Road Blood Donation Center, 3601 Union Road
    • 6/17-19, 6/24-26: 7:45 a.m. - 2:45 p.m., Union Road Blood Donation Center, 3601 Union Road
  • East Aurora
    • 6/22: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Absolut Care - Aurora Park, Absolut Care - Aurora Park, 292 Main St.
  • Elma
    • 6/30: 2 p.m. - 6 p.m., Faith Lutheran Church, 1230 Bowen Road
  • Getzville
    • 6/28: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., St Pius X Roman Catholic Church Father Weber Center, 1700 N French Rd
  • Grand Island
    • 6/21: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., Grand Island Knights of Columbus, Grand Island Knights of Columbus, 1841 Whitehaven Rd
  • Hamburg
    • 6/14: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., VFW Post 1419 - Hamburg, 2985 Lakeview Rd
    • 6/16: 1:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., Revive Wesleyan, 4999 McKinley Pkwy.
  • Orchard Park
    • 6/14/2022: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m., Orchard Park American Legion Post 567, 5784 Ellis Rd
    • 6/17: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., St Bernadette’s Roman Catholic Church, 5930 S Abbott Rd
  • Springville
    • 6/15: 1 p.m. - 7 p.m., Concord Senior Center, 40 Commerce Drive
  • West Seneca
    • 6/21: 2 p.m. - 6 p.m., Union Fire Company, 1845 Union Road
    • 6/29: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Erie 1 BOCES, 355 Harlem Rd.
  • Williamsville
    • 6/25: 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, 1424 Maple Rd

Genesee

  • Batavia
    • 6/28: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., American Legion Batavia, 8960 Alexander Rd, Rte 98
    • 6/29: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., St. James Episcopal Church, 405 E Main St
  • Elba
    • 6/23: 1:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., Elba Fire Hall, 7143 Oak Orchard Rd
  • Le Roy
    • 6/23: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., American Legion, 53 West Main Street

Niagara

  • Lewiston
    • 6/15: 1:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., Lewiston Fire Co No 1, 145 N 6th St
  • Lockport
    • 6/14, 6/28: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., The Dale Association Incorporated, 33 Ontario St.
  • Middleport
    • 6/27: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., Middleport Fire Hall, 28 Main St
  • Niagara Falls
    • 6/17: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino, Seneca Niagara Casino - Hotel Side, 310 4th St
    • 6/17: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., Fashion Outlets - Niagara Falls, 1900 Military Road
    • 6/25: 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., Elks Lodge #346, 7710 Buffalo Avenue
  • North Tonawanda
    • 6/22: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., Stephen Sikora Post American Legion, 950 Payne Ave.
  • Sanborn
    • 6/29: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., United Way of Greater Niagara, 6420 Inducon Drive West, Suite B2

Orleans

  • Medina
    • 6/21: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Sacred Heart Club, 189 N Gravel Rd

Wyoming

  • Arcade
    • 6/16: 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Hope Lutheran Church, 2 E. Main St.
  • Attica
    • 6/15: 1 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., St. Vincent’s, 22 Walnut St, Auditorium
  • Perry
    • 6/29: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 35 Covington St