Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a bill into law this morning that would allow 16-year-olds to donate blood provided they have their parents' permission.
The bill was the idea of 16-year-old Joe Gibson of Blooming Prairie, Minn., who said he was disappointed to learn that he could not donate blood.
"It really started when I was walking out of the locker room after football practice one day and saw a blood drive going on in the commons of our high school. I walked up to the table and thought, this would be a great way to give back to the community," Gibson said. "I walked up to the table and asked if I could donate, and they turned me away because I was two years too young, 15 at the time. And it just didn't make sense to me."
Pawlenty said the bill is important because there is an ongoing need to replenish the blood supply.
"If we don't have people who are willing to step forward and volunteer to give blood, that presents a really acute problem for our health care providers and can be life-threatening," Pawlenty said. "And when we have tragedy where there's a large need for blood, we need to make sure that the infrastructure's in place and the supply is in place. Having an opportunity for more people to give blood is a wonderful thing." The law says 16-year-olds will be allowed to start donating blood on July 1. Gibson said he is going to gather a few of his friends to donate blood on that day.