Student-conceived marrow donor bill is shelved

Howard teens proposed lower age requirement

April 01, 2004|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

A few Columbia high school students learned a tough lesson about politics this week when their General Assembly bill to lower the age requirement for bone marrow donors was shelved for this session.

The measure, which would lower the minimum age for donors from 18 to 16 with parental consent, was referred for summer study because of "technical problems" in it, said Del. John Adams Hurson, a Montgomery County Democrat and chairman of the Health and Government Operations Committee. He refused to be more specific.

Jade Vaughn, Monica Holloway, Cherise Carpenter and Kimberly Sealey - students at Oakland Mills High School - went to Annapolis on March 10 with Joslyn Wolfe, their faculty adviser, to testify for the bill they conceived and worked on for two years.

Increasing the donor pool is particularly important for minority patients, they learned during their research, because there are few minority donors.

Also this week, the girls learned about a 16-year-old Glenelg High student who needs a marrow transplant but cannot find a donor.

After school yesterday, Vaughn and Holloway sat on the floor in Wolfe's classroom and discussed their experience.

Neither seemed discouraged.

"I don't feel bad about it," Vaughn said, adding that they knew the bill might not pass. Holloway agreed.

"We did make it that far to testify before the committee. Now the issue has been brought before the public," she said.

Wolfe is working to reverse opposition from the National Marrow Donor Program - which said children under 18 are too immature to give informed consent - and said the students would be ready next year.

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