Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


New law would lower donor age

A bill passed in the Assembly Wednesday that would allow 16-year-olds
to donate blood, provided they have the consent of a guardian.

Current Wisconsin law allows anyone who is 17 or older and
meets the physical requirements to donate blood.

State Sen. Fred Risser,
D-Madison, was a co-sponsor of the legislation in the Senate.


?The bill came at the request
of the Red Cross,? Risser said.

Rep. J.A. Hines, R-Oxford, chair of the Committee on Public
Health, explained the motivation behind that request.

?The reason they asked me to do this was because they were
finding that a lot of the blood facilities are at schools and that a lot of 16-year-olds
wanted to give blood but could not because the law is 17,? Hines said.

While there is not currently a shortage in blood donations
in Wisconsin, there is a national shortage and seasonal shortages locally.

?The hope is that 16-year-olds being able to donate will
have a positive impact on the shortage,? said Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, a
co-sponsor of the legislation.

The motivation for the bill spurs from the idea that those
who donate at an early age are more likely to continue donating blood
throughout their lifetimes, Hines said.

?The national organization for blood donation feels that 16
is a perfectly safe age for folks to get involved in this,? Ballweg said.

High school and college students currently make up 20
percent of all blood donations, according to Sarah Stevermer, a communications
specialist at the American Red Cross.

?We are hoping that by dropping the age to 16 it will allow
students to become lifetime blood donators,? Stevermer said.

Hines added the only bump in
the road the legislation faced had been a wording issue, and aside from that,
it faces no opposition.

The Assembly bill and its Senate version passed out of
committee unanimously, making sponsors optimistic that it would become
legislation soon.

The American Red Cross estimates that every two seconds
someone in the United States will need a blood transfusion, and the volume of
blood needed for transfusions in the United States is increasing by 6 percent a

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