Organs from death row

April 25, 2011
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A news article about an Oregon man on death row made me consider something I never had before: organ donation from those put to death.

Christian Longo wants to donate his organs after he’s executed by lethal injection. The 37-year-old was convicted of killing his wife and three children. He says he’ll drop his appeals if he’s allowed to donate. Interesting bargaining chip, as appeals can last years and be costly.

His request has been rejected, as have the requests of other death row inmates who want to donate organs. In Indiana, Gregory Scott Johnson wanted to donate part of his liver to his sick sister. Johnson believed the Indiana Parole Board violated the Indiana Constitution by denying his request. Gov. Mitch Daniels also denied clemency, saying doctors had recommend the sister try to find a donor through conventional methods and there was no clear medical advantage to receiving Johnson’s liver, according to news accounts. Johnson was executed in May 2005.

There are many arguments against allowing death row inmates to donate organs. The lethal injections could harm or impact the organs. Who would pay for tests on these organs to see if they are usable? Will death row inmates be coerced into donating their organs or more people sentenced to die with the hope of donating the organs? In China, the majority of donated organs come from prisoners.

But, to play devil’s advocate, what if there is no harm from the injections to the organs and they could be used to save people’s lives? In Indiana, there are 35 people awaiting heart transplants, more than 1,200 who need a kidney transplant, and 97 awaiting liver transplants. There are more than 1,400 people in Indiana and more than 110,000 nationwide who are awaiting transplants.

Why shouldn’t someone who freely makes the decision to donate his or her organs be allowed to do so? They aren’t going to need them after death.

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  • Organs From Death Row
    Sure, why not. Only as long as it is OK with the Death Row person. I do not think it would be acceptable to do it afterwards without their consent beforehand.

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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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