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    House Bill No. 5625 proposes to lower the minimum age for blood donation to 16, with parental consent. It amends 1971 PA 22 section 1 (MCL 722.41), as amended by 1981 PA 228. 1971 act 22 effective in May 13, 1971, and 1981 act 228 effective in January 12, 1982. Section 1 of 1971 act 22 is about blood donation by persons 17 years of age or over and the permissions or authorizations necessary. It says "a person 17 years of age or over may donate blood in a voluntary and non-compensatory blood program without the necessity of obtaining parental or guardian's permission or authorization." After being amended, it becomes "an individual who is 17 years of age or over may donate blood in a voluntary and non-compensatory blood program without obtaining his or her parent's or legal guardian's permission or authorization." The amendment adds one point which regulates a 16 year-old individual: "an individual who is 16 years of age may donate blood in a voluntary and non-compensatory blood program with his or her parent's or legal guardian's permission or authorization."

    . The age differentiation between 16 and 17 years old is important because 17 is the year when someone can legally be called mature and be responsible for their own actions. A 16 year-old boy may be too young to have their own responsibilities in the eye of the law. When a 16 year-old wants to donate his/her blood without the permission of their parents or legal guardian, they may donate their blood as much as they want without thinking of the impact. The American Red Cross also requires that a person should at least be 17 years old to donate their blood.

    The politics surrounding the proposal should be about the age differentiation. American Red Cross should agree about the age differentiation as the requirements to donate blood. The opponents may come from those who want to donate their blood. They may argue that American Red Cross, which has the responsibility to take blood donation, should have the data about the frequency of blood donation every individual makes, even though those individuals are still below 17 years old. Thus, American Red Cross should supervise the frequency of donation by every individual. Others may contend that a lot of 16 year-olds are mature enough physically and psychologically; thus, age designation should not be rigidly applied. Instead, they may argue, organizations that receive blood donation should examine carefully whether or not one's health allows him/her to give blood donation. Besides, hospitals as the blood consumers usually need a lot of blood donation. They would agree that someone who is below 17 years old can donate their blood as long as they are physically and psychologically ready. The courts also have the role to decide the definition of legal guardian for someone in case his/her parents pass away. The courts may need the person's consent when they want to appoint a legal guardian for that person, thus the appointment of a legal guardian has to be done with care by taking into account a lot of relevant factors.

    Finally, those who support age designation may declare that minimum age limit (17 years old) is necessary to ensure that only adults can donate their blood. Having a minimum age legally set up is crucial in order to avoid red-cross organizations and hospitals from having to face law suits in the future for allowing minors to donate their blood and bear the consequences. They may argue that there should be such a declaration of a minimum and maximum age limits since a general understanding and standard for physical and psychological readiness for those who donate their blood is highly substantial in the eye of the law and provide feelings of security for the society.

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    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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    Meet your Policy Fellow: Leah Brynaert

    Leah Brynaert is Health Care Fellow & Correspondent for the Michigan Policy Network. She is a first-year student in Lyman Briggs College at MSU.