by MOLLY MOSER
The Committee on Health and Human services discussed Assembly Bill 183 on Wed., which could allow 16-year-olds to donate blood with parental consent and to help increase the blood supply throughout Nevada.
Within the last year, the American Red Cross reported there was low blood supply throughout the country and Nevada being one of the states with a lack of blood donations. Assemblyman Wesley Duncan, District 37-R, said that states are beginning to lower the blood donation age to 16, with a parental or guardian’s approval. The current law in Nevada for blood donation age limit is 17, without parental or guardian consent.
Currently, 41 states – including Utah and California – allows people of 16 years of age donate blood with consent. Duncan said it’s becoming a trend across the country to lower the age limit and it could help increase the blood supply. AB 183 is also Duncan’s first bill he has presented as a freshman.
“Lowering the age will increase the blood supply and would help high school students to get involved,” Duncan said. “There are times where we actually have to transport blood to other states.”
The testimonies made on Mar. 20 were all in support of the bill. Clara Andriola, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross in Northern Nevada Chapter, said lowering the donation age in Nevada could increase 10–20 percent among high school age donors.
In her statement in support of the bill to the committee, Andriola said, “Allowing blood donation at the age of 16 will give eligible students an opportunity to participate in this important civic duty.”
Concerns addressed of lowering the blood donation age consist of the required weight limit, and notifying parents or guardians if a sexually transmitted disease shos up in their child’s results. The minimum weight for a 16-year-old to donate blood is 110 pounds; Andriola said it’s required to be strictly followed within Red Cross standards.
Glenn Jacobson, Director of Collections at American Red Cross and in support of the bill, said the donor and the parents would be notified if blood results showed positive for an STD. Jacobson said the parents would also be notified prior to the donation as a confirmation they’ve given their child consent to donate. He said before the drive starts, students who are interested in donating would receive information about it – as well as a permission form to their parents.
“It’s productive and safe for students to do this,” Jacobson said. “High school students are the ones who mostly donate. It’s becoming a standard to not only the Red Cross but other blood organizations.”
Liz McMahon, a frequent blood donator in support of the bill, said there needs to be more calls on blood donations throughout the state instead of just calls to the frequent donators to help increase the blood supply in Nevada.
“I realized how important it is to increase the amount of donors out there,” McMahon said. “As a blood donor who gets constantly called to donate, I want to see more of that with others.”
Lobbyist Cheryl Blomstrom said donating blood is passed on to down the recent generation of her family. Blomstrom said it would make a difference if the information about Nevada’s low blood supply is passed on to the community.
“It’s a simple necessity of giving blood to others,” Blomstrom said. “Blood shortage in Nevada is a key importance to have enough blood in our state.”
No other testifiers opposed or were in a neutral stand for AB 183. The primary sponsors of the bill are Assemblymen Duncan, Paul Anderson, Michael Sprinkle and Pat Hickey.