Sean Reinert’s Organ Donor Request Was Denied Because of His Sexual Orientation
Like so many of us, late Cynic drummer Sean Reinert had checked the little “organ donor” box on the back of his driver’s license, or had otherwise signed up in some way to have his organs harvested and donated to a patient in need in the tragic and unlikely event of his death. Sean, as most of you know by now, died unexpectedly last month at just 48 years old, bringing that scenario into reality.
Shortly after Sean’s death, his husband, Tom, received a phone call from someone who works in an organ donor program. Among other questions, the person on the phone asked if Sean had been a sexually active homosexual male, and when Tom answered “yes” the interview stopped right there. Because Sean was gay and sexually active, his organs are not eligible for transplant, as specified by guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services for organ transplantation in 2013.
Tom was devastated, and yesterday took to Facebook to explain the situation in detail. It’s incredibly sad that in 2020, when gay marriage is legal in all 50 states and LGBTQ+ people are more widely accepted than ever before, blatant discrimination is still so pervasive that it is quite literally preventing lives from being saved. For fuck’s sake. Utterly appalling.
Here’s Tom’s full recount of the story:
“My husband Sean was an organ donor. He believed that when he passed on if his organs could go to someone in need that it would be a great thing. He was incredibly kind and giving in every way imaginable as many of his closest friends are well aware.
“After I got home from the hospital the night Sean passed I received a phone call about 1 in the morning. It was from a person who works with the organ donor program at the hospital where Sean passed. They notified me that Sean was identified as an organ donor in their database and wanted to ask me some questions about him to proceed. I could not deal with the stress of this at the time and asked if I could wait to talk to them the next morning and they said although time was of the essence that would be fine as there’s a 24 hour window to harvest organs.
“The next morning when Seans sister Patti arrived from Miami I explained the situation to her and we agreed that if Sean wanted his organs donated that we would honor his wishes. I called the organ donation people back and said I was ready to proceed. The lady on the phone said that was great and began the questionnaire. After the first few standard questions she asked if Sean was a sexually active homosexual male. Without thinking I said “yes” and almost without missing a beat she said “well, unfortunately that means….” and I went numb because I knew what she was about to say. She said a few more words and then I interrupted her, said some words back and hung up the phone.
“Sean did not have HIV, or any other STD’s for that matter. But because he was a gay man living in America in 2020 he was not allowed one of his final wishes of donating his organs to help save another persons life. The government would rather let people waiting for a transplant die than give them one of Seans organs. As his husband it makes me sick to my stomach and incredibly angry.
“EDIT: Quick comment for those of you looking up organ donation websites and thinking something went wrong here. The specific guidelines are for men who have had male to male sexual contact in the last 12 months. It’s regulated by the FDA and those guidelines are still in place. So while websites may say it’s a ‘myth’ that LGBTQ+ people can’t donate, that is not true of sexually active men. – Tom”
Reinert publicly came out as gay back in 2014 alongside his Cynic bandmate at the time, Paul Masvidal.
Until which time the ridiculous and outdated guidelines governing organ donation are updated, the moral of the story here is that family members of a deceased person should lie about their sexual orientation when contacted by organ donor personnel. Simple as that.
On behalf of everyone at MetalSucks, we continue to send our best to Sean’s family and friends during this difficult time.