Gay men can now donate blood to patients in need

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently overturned its decades-long ban on gay men donating blood. 

Screening is now based on the individual versus just a blanket assessment, and City of Hope was at the forefront of this important change in June. 

Gay men can make history and celebrate Pride stepping up for those who need blood donations. 

RELATED: Southern California Blood Bank now welcomes gay, bisexual men as donors

I went to the City of Hope Blood Donor Center in Duarte, which was the only hospital-based blood donor center in America to sponsor the study, which helped lead to a recent legislative change.

"We're so excited to share this is the first Pride Month that men who sleep with men can donate blood, and the FDA regulation changed," said David Price with Enterprise Access Financial Services for City of Hope.

"City of Hope is really excited that we partnered with the Red Cross to bring the advanced study to the LA-area last year, and we helped change the FDA regulation through grassroots efforts and research and science, which is what City of Hope is all about."

City of Hope was the hospital that saved my life, and I benefited from blood transfusions while receiving chemotherapy. This is truly something to celebrate because we, at the end of the day, are saving more lives. 

"Anybody who's willing and able to donate, please do so. It's just so important. The ability of going to gender-neutral language within the questionnaire has really just been a game changer for us. We're really, really excited to celebrate this June with those accomplishments," Price said.

As of August of last year, the City of Hope Blood Donor Center finalized and updated procedures, including the retraining of staff for these donations. The staff has really stepped up for this change and some are even donating themselves, like Diego Rodriguez, Senior Regional Nursing Director for City of Hope.

"Yes, it was awesome. I was so excited, that my blood pressure went up, so they told me to take a few deep breaths. 'Relax. Otherwise, we won't be able to get your blood.' And so I calmed down eventually, but it was very emotional for me because knowing that one donor can save three lives is a big deal. I donated blood last year for the first time, and it's the best thing that I can do. I'm a nurse, by profession, and I was able to help our patients in a different way with all the skills that I have, but I couldn't donate blood. And that was frustrating, especially working with cancer patients. Often they need blood."

"I'm just really proud of our employees for being brave enough to be an outspoken representation for our community. We changed the FDA regulation and that honestly served the whole nation. It's really a pleasure to be a part of this change and so excited," he added.

It gets me teary-eyed talking about it, because donating blood is one of the most selfless things a person can do. 

I've benefited from it. I'm here because of people who took time out of their day to donate blood. 

I will never be able to donate blood for the rest of my life because I had blood cancer. So seeing people like Diego who step up to help people really means a lot.

If you would like to donate blood, please visit or call (626) 218-7171.