Blood banking bill stalls in House subcommittee

DES MOINES — A House subcommittee has blocked a Senate-passed bill that would have changed the rules for people banking blood for themselves or donating for someone else, usually for a relative.

Senator Jeff Edler, a Republican from State Center, says a constituent who worked in the blood industry for 26 years asked him to sponsor the bill.  “I’m very simply stating that in Iowa we would like to ensure that the patient should be able to continue with the basic right to know who their donor is,” Edler says.

Under current practice, doctors write an order when individuals give their own blood for an upcoming surgery or donate for someone else’s care. The bill would have forced Iowa blood banks to take and store blood from Iowans, for any reason.

Republican Representative Tom Moore of Griswold, a retired teacher and coach, opposes the bill. He says there’s nothing keeping a doctor and patient from deciding together that the patient’s blood should be stored — but the bill could create a dangerous dilemma in an operating room. “What if this bill passes and I am in need of my own blood because I have stored up three pints of it and we get in and a transfusion of more than three pints is warranted and I’ve said: ‘All I want is my blood,’ what happens to me on the table?” Moore asked. “I see that as problematic.”

A doctor and a dentist who serve in the legislature also opposed the bill in subcommittee, so the bill is not advancing in the Iowa House. Several officials from blood banks spoke during the subcommittee hearing and urged lawmakers to take that action. Dr. Emily Coberly is the divisional chief medical director for the American Red Cross.  “Essentially everyone — all patients involved in this entire process that may need blood — could be harmed by this bill,” Coberly said.

No one but Edler spoke in favor of the legislation during the subcommittee hearing.