This Pride Month, the College of American Pathologists and its members are working to demystify and dismantle misconceptions around stem cell donation from those in the LGBTQ population.
Specifically, the national marrow registry lifted restrictions on gay men donating stem cells in 2015. However, donation hesitancy among the LGBTQ community remains.
"The LGBTQIA+ population in general has experienced a lot of issues with the medical-industrial complex in terms of discrimination and inappropriate care," Brian Adkins, MD, FCAP, told Medscape. Dr. Adkins works as a pathologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center and manages the blood bank at Children's Health in Dallas. "There's a weariness there that may produce some hesitancy to interact with the donation process."
The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration recorded that roughly 22,000 hematopoietic cell transplantation procedures were performed in 2020. According to Dr. Adkins, the ideal stem cell donor for these types of procedures is young (18–35) and male. Because males tend to be physically larger, they can often provide more stem cells per donation. Cells from younger donors are also associated with better survival rates for patients.
With a growing number of young men identifying as gay (21% of Generation Z males, according to this Gallup pole), raising awareness and inclusivity around donation protocols is increasingly important. The CAP supported the lifting of restrictions around who is eligible to donate stem cells and will continue outreach efforts to the LGBTQ community to encourage and support donations.