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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