Since 2016, the Department of Health has regulated blood establishments in the state. Current statutory authority allows anyone over the age of 18 to donate blood without parental permission, but does not address blood donation requirements for minors. The Washington State Office of the Attorney General’s website states that minors between the ages of 16 and 17 years old may donate blood with parental permission.
Blood donation through apheresis is the process where blood is collected via a special machine to allow for specific blood components to be separated during donation. After the blood is drawn from the donor, the blood is placed into a machine called a "cell separator", where the blood can be separated out into platelets, plasma, or white blood cells. The remaining blood is then returned to the donor.
Anyone 18 and older can donate blood, including donation through apheresis, without parental permission or authorization. Anyone between the ages of 16 and 17 may donate blood, including donation through apheresis, in any voluntary and noncompensatory blood program after obtaining parental or legal guardian permission or authorization.
The committee recommended a different version of the bill than what was heard. PRO: Blood donation is a way to give back to the community and save lives. Blood donation centers are beginning to see a deficit in blood donations as the older generation ages out. The youth population can help address this deficit and become lifelong blood donors. Previously, some youths could not donate blood platelets due to their age. A large blood donor pool is important because certain blood donations, like platelets, have a short shelf life and require frequent donations. Donations are often used for research which impacts the blood supply for those in need. Allowing youths to donate blood will access an untapped group of individuals who can impact the blood supply and have a longstanding impact on their community. High school blood drives are a common way youths donate blood and this bill would allow for more youths to donate blood in a variety of ways.