Minnesota blood banks will soon have a new vein to draw on, thanks to a bill that cleared the Legislature on Thursday that Gov. Tim Pawlenty plans to sign.
The state House followed the Senate in unanimously passing a bill that would lower the legal age for blood donors from 17 years old to 16 years old.
The younger donors would be allowed to donate blood with a parent's permission. The youth donors wouldn't be eligible to give blood for money.
The bill was conceived by Blooming Prairie High School sophomore Joe Gibson, who wanted to donate blood at a school blood drive but was turned away because of his age.
Brian McClung, a spokesman for Pawlenty, said the governor supports the bill.
Rep. Patti Fritz, DFL-Faribault, said Minnesota will become the 15th state to allow 16 year olds to give blood when the law takes effect in July.
Rep. Marsha Swails, DFL-Woodbury, said she hopes the change will improve participation in high school blood drives.
"Getting young people involved in a sense of sharing and helping our community is a worthwhile activity," Swails said.
During a brief House debate, Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan, said he didn't understand why the bill stops at 16 year olds.
"If there is no medical reason for going lower, why can't a parent allow their 13 year old to donate blood?" Buesgens asked rhetorically.
Fritz said pediatricians objected to pushing the minimum below age 16.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)