Last summer, Alexander "AJ" Betts, 16, of Pleasant Hills, Iowa, took his own life.
The young man had endured months of brutal bullying after his peers discovered he was gay, and eventually he had had enough.
Betts was an organ donor, and his kidneys, liver, lungs and heart were all used to help people in need. His eyes, however, were rejected by the FDA and were not given to a patient in need.
"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," AJ's mother Sheryl Moore told local news source KCCI.
The policy that excludes gay men from donating their eyes is actually part of a greater ban. For decades now, gay men have not been permitted to donate any of their bodily tissue, for fear that it could be contaminated with HIV or some other form of infectious disease.
“This is archaic, and it is just silly that people wouldn't get the life-saving assistance they need because of regulations that are 30 years old,” continued a baffled Moore.
Glenn Cohen, a professor of bioethics law for Harvard University, agrees with Moore. In an interview with CBS, Cohen stated, " We think it’s time for the FDA to take a serious look at this policy, because it’s out of step with peer countries, it’s out of step with modern medicine, it’s out of step with public opinion, and we feel it may be legally problematic."
As KCCI points out, "The exclusion is not limited to certain tissue donations. Gay men are also banned for life from donating blood."
The American Medical Association has voted to end the ban, The Daily Mail reports.
As AJ's mother Sheryl put it, "It is just silly that people wouldn’t get the life-saving assistance they need because of regulations that are 30 years old."