‘Momentous day’: Gay man drives an hour to end 25-year wait to give blood

Keith Bishop
11:00am, Tue 15 Jun 2021
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A gay man who waited 25 years to give blood drove for an hour to donate after a landmark rule change came into effect.

New eligibility rules came into effect on Monday meaning donors in England, Scotland and Wales will no longer be asked if they are a man who has had sex with another man.

Now, anyone who has had the same sexual partner for the last three months will be eligible to donate, meaning more gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood, platelets and plasma while keeping blood just as safe, it added.

Keith Bishop, 46, a lecturer at Newman University in Birmingham, made the long drive to end a 25-year wait to give blood on what he described as “quite a momentous” day.

Anyone who has had the same sexual partner for the last three months will be eligible to donate, meaning more gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood, platelets and plasma while keeping blood just as safe, NHS Blood and Transplant said.

“I’m married (and) have been in the same long-term relationship for nearly 17 years now,” Mr Bishop told the PA news agency.

“And so from a risk point of view, I kind of pose no risk whatsoever.

“I travelled, an hour’s drive actually, to go today, because I’ve waited 25 years for this. I couldn’t wait another day.”

Mr Bishop added: “When lots of my friends turned 18, all they wanted to do was go to the pub – all I wanted to do was give blood.

“I waited to turn 18, and that was a big, exciting moment for me.

“As I got older, I kind of became more active in my life, without putting too crude a point on it, which then just barred me from doing that – I wasn’t allowed to then give blood.

“How did it feel? It’s just another reinforcement really, that for many people, gay men are second-class citizens in this country.”

Mr Bishop celebrated giving blood by filming himself afterwards, saying: “The thing is, the fight for equality isn’t just about what you can get, it’s also about what you can give.”

Blood donations (PA Media)

He said: “The staff there are friendly, professional, brilliant – I felt very welcomed.

“They were obviously aware of the changes, they were very sensitive to the fact that I’d waited such a long time.

“So yeah, other than getting a big needle in me, it was a really very positive experience.

“It’s an untapped resource for them. I mean, literally, it’s an untapped resource for them. And so hopefully, they will see this as a really positive change.

“My message is, you know, this is a great step forward, but to lots of people who are in my situation, go and give blood because at some point you might need some yourself.”

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