Cole Strain’s passion for helping people extends far beyond his job as a travel nurse. When he got the call that he’d been matched with a patient in need of blood stem cells, he didn’t hesitate to say yes.
Cole joined the Be The Match Registry in 2014 while attending nursing school. Despite having a busy schedule as a traveling nurse, he didn’t let that stop him from donating. In fact, Be The Match made it easy for him to donate. So, in the spring of 2022, Cole selflessly donated his blood stem cells that would be used to cure someone with blood cancer or other life-threatening disease.
Cole hopes that he can continue to inspire others to sign up and make a difference in the lives of patients with blood cancers and diseases. In fact, he already has. After witnessing Cole’s donation experience, his fiancé Hunter was also inspired to join the registry.
While it’s noble for anyone to sign up and donate blood stem cells, it’s particularly important for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, like Cole and Hunter, to do so, given the community’s history with blood donations.
Yes, you can!
It is a common misconception that gay men and other members of the LGBTQIA+ community cannot join the donor registry. It’s true that for more than 30 years, gay men and other members of the LGBTQIA+ community were banned from donating blood. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has since relaxed its blood donation requirements.
According to UCLA’s Williams Institute, an estimated 615,000 pints of blood were not collected each year because of the prior ban. Not only did this ban reinforce harmful stigmas about donors’ sexual orientation, but it also prevented these uncollected donations from saving an estimated 1 million lives per year.
Be The Match proudly supports the LGBTQIA+ community and recognizes that members of this community want to help save lives through blood stem cell donations. That’s why the organization encourages everyone in good health aged 18-40 to join the registry and potentially match with a patient in need.
A simple process that saves lives
Signing up for the Be The Match Registry is simple. After registering online, you’ll receive a swab kit that you will return by mail. Should you be matched, pronouns and gender identity are respected throughout the process.
When signing up for the registry, members are not asked about their sexual orientation. If you are identified as a match for a patient, you’ll be asked to fill out a health history questionnaire as required by the FDA, which does include questions about sexual behavior.
This year, celebrate Pride by visiting BeTheMatch.com/Pride. There, you can find out more about signing up and the blood stem cell donation process. Your healthy blood stem cells have the potential to cure someone with blood cancer or other deadly diseases.