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Bill would lower blood donor age to 16 in Massachusetts

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A bill I wrote (H 4547) is currently before the state House of Representatives. It would lower the minimum age to donate blood in Massachusetts from 17 to 16. I’m a 16-year-old high school junior from Lexington.

It is important that as many people donate as possible, since an adequate blood supply is critical to the medical care of many people. In fact, some cancer patients use hundreds of units of blood and platelets over the course of their therapy.

Massachusetts currently imports about 30 percent of its blood from surrounding states, a level which demands that more people donate. Lowering the minimum age would raise the level in several ways.

First, letting more high school students donate blood will increase the number of blood donations, especially because many blood drives occur in high schools. Additionally, a greater proportion of young people are able to donate blood because they are less likely to have had experiences, particularly exposure in various ways to blood-borne illnesses, which disqualify them. Further, letting young people get in the habit of blood donation early will make it more likely that they will continue to donate blood. The bill is supported by the Red Cross and several hospitals because it will increase the blood supply for those who need it.

I first donated blood in Maine, which is one of 13 states and territories (also including New York) that allow people my age to do so. Since Massachusetts imports blood, it is ironic that my blood — donated in Maine — could be used in Massachusetts.

In order to pass the bill quickly, the bill needs support from as many people as possible. Call or write to your legislators to ask them to support the bill. Alternately, letters of support sent to MoreMAblood@gmail.com with your town noted will be passed on to the correct legislators.

Thank you very much,

MARK CHONOFSKY

Lexington

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