Age requirement for blood donors may get lowered

Published 10:33 pm Saturday, April 4, 2009

IRONTON — A proposed bill that would lower the minimum age for blood donors in Lawrence County has cleared another hurdle.

By a 99-0 vote, the Ohio House of Representatives approved the bill that would lower the required age Ohioans could donate blood to 16 years old with parental permission.

The current age requirement is 17.

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The bill still needs approval in the Ohio Senate and the signature of Gov. Ted Strickland. If signed into law, Ohio would join 22 other states nationwide that have lowered their minimum age.

Kentucky already allows 16-year-olds to donate blood, while a similar measure has recently passed in West Virginia.

The other blood donation requirements the American Red Cross mandates will still stay in place. Those include a minimum weight of 110 pounds, good health and a 56-day waiting period before donations.

Cheryl Gergely, supervisor of communications for the American Red Cross, said the Greater Alleghenies Region Southwest Zone that Lawrence County falls under said they need more than 1,000 people to donate every day to meet demand and the lowering the age helps in a big way.

“We have already collected more than 5,800 donors from 16-year-olds since July 1, 2008,” Gergely said. “By lowering the age limit in Ohio, it allows students more opportunities to give blood and it becomes more engrained in them to do so.”

According to the American Red Cross, 10 to 12 percent of the blood donations come from 17 and 18 year olds. Across Ohio, 50,000 units of blood are pulled from high school blood drives.

The large part of the donor population is currently order adults, Gergely said.