Liias-sponsored bill would expand blood donations to 16- and 17-year-olds

State Sen. Marko Liias

A bill sponsored by 21st District State Sen. Marko Liias to expand eligibility for a certain type of blood donation to 16- and 17-year-olds was approved by the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee Friday.

Under current law, 16- and 17-year-olds can donate whole blood with parental or guardian permission, however they cannot donate blood through the process known as apheresis, which is used for platelet donations.

SB 5179 would allow people ages 16 and 17 to donate blood through the apheresis process with parental or guardian permission.

“We entrust our 16- and 17-year-olds with really important decisions like driving a car,” said Liias testifying in committee in support of his bill. “So we should entrust them, together in consultation with their parents or guardian, with the decision to donate blood.”

Liias was inspired to introduce this legislation after hearing the story of one of his constituents, Grace Griffin from Lynnwood.

“At 16, I was deferred from donating platelets in Washington, which made me sad, but I was inspired to change that because I truly believe this can do good,” said Griffin during the committee public hearing. “I have seen platelet donations do good. My late grandma had aplastic anemia and platelet donations blessed her and my family with time. I never got to meet her, but I know those last few moments had an impact on my family.”

“We know in this country every two seconds in America someone needs a blood donation, so we need to make sure we maintain a healthy supply of donations to support that need,” said Liias.

Liias also noted in his closing remarks that the U.S. still has an outdated and discriminatory policy on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. He is an advocate for removing these kinds of barriers.

SB 5179 now moves to the Senate Rules committee where it is eligible for consideration by the full Senate. SB 5179 would need to be approved by the full Senate by March 9, 2021 to be eligible for continued consideration during the 2021 legislative session.

The session is scheduled to adjourn for the year on April 25.

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