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SUNY Student Assembly Blood Drive in Honor of Orlando Victims

ALBANY--A blood drive hosted by the SUNY Student Assembly is a display of dedication and solidarity with the LGBT+/MOGII Communities.

Dedicated to honor those who died in the Orlando shootings, the drive at the SUNY Albany Campus Center Assembly Hall is also taking action to change current FDA regulations, so everyone can donate.

Currently, an FDA ban requires gay men to be celibate for one year prior to donating blood.

Following Orlando, many people complained they were turned away from blood banks that needed blood.

Yesterday more than a 130 members of congress called for a lift of that requirement. However, the SUNY Student assembly has been working for years for a change.

"We're in Albany, and they're in Orlando, but we stand next to them. We stand with them," said Marc Cohen, President of the SUNY Student Assembly.

He says the Student Assembly passed a blood donor equality bill two years ago, in October of 2014. At that time, there was a decades old lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. In December 2015, the FDA lifted that ban, but implemented a celibacy requirement.

Cohen says the Red Cross is assisting with the effort to allow everyone to donate blood. Senior Account Manager for Red Cross Blood Services, Steve Leary says they've been working to bring the science up to the law, though he says he understands FDA hesitance.

"This started back in the 80's during the aids crisis, people didn't know a lot about aids, there wasn't a lot of accurate testing at the time." Leary says the testing has greatly improved.

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