Meridian teens' organ donation bill headed to House floor for vote

BOISE, Idaho - Members of the Meridian Mayor's Youth Advisory Council may not be old enough to vote, but that didn't stop them from creating legislation now headed to the House floor for a vote. 

House Bill 546 changes the age teens are allowed to be an organ donor from 16 to 15. 

"Many people don't know that in organ donation the organs donated have to match the recipient within 15 years of age," MYAC Government Affairs Vice-Chair Avalyn Hine said. "The effect of this phenomenon is a decreased supply of organs for individuals under the age of 30."

Each year, MYAC decides on a topic that could improve from a change in public policy. After MYAC teens presented research on organ donation at an annual legislative breakfast at Meridian City Hall, Rep. Jason Monks, R-Nampa, agreed to work with the group to help draft and sponsor the legislation. 

"They chose this because they wanted to be part of the solution to the shortage of qualified donors," Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd said. 

Under the legislation, 15-year-olds could receive the "donor" designation on their drivers license. Still, as current law requires of 16-year-olds with a donor designation, a guardian's permission would be needed before organs could be harvested for donation. 

MYAC Government Affairs Chair Arlie Bledsoe said she has a personal connection to the project. 

"I actually have a tissue donation, a tendon in my knee," Bledsoe said. "I would probably not be able to do a lot of the things I'm able to do today... without this tissue donation. I'm really grateful to whoever that was, and I just want to share that with others." 

The House Health & Welfare Committee unanimously agreed to send the bill to the House floor for a vote with a do pass recommendation. 

"I'm proud to live in a community that cares about what our teens think," de Weerd said. 

MYAC is open to all Meridian high school students. 

"You can really get involved in government, and it's not as hard as it seems," Bledsoe said. "It's a way that you can get involved without having to be a able to vote. By the time that I am able to vote I'll have a lot better understanding of government and... I'll be able to represent my entire belief system better when I do vote.

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