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April 14, 2013

"New Utah law allows organ donations from prisoners; nearly 250 sign up"

The title of this post is the headline of this new article via NBC News.   Here are excerpts:

Joanne Ford was a designated organ donor for decades, years before she was sentenced to time in Utah’s Draper Prison for possession and distribution of methamphetamines.  But it wasn’t until two weeks ago that the 48-year-old inmate was guaranteed the right to honor her wishes if she happened to die while incarcerated.

Utah’s governor, Gary R. Herbert, signed the first state law on March 28 that explicitly permits general prisoners to sign up for organ donation — and cracks the door to the controversial option of allowing death-row inmates to donate as well. 

“I think, why not?” says Ford, who is among 247 Utah prisoners who’ve signed up to donate their organs. “If you have healthy organs, why would you not be able to help someone else?”

Whether to accept organs from prisoners has long been a thorny issue.  Ethics experts say it pits questions of coercion of a vulnerable population against the desperate need for organs in a country where nearly 118,000 people are waiting for hearts, kidneys, livers and other life-saving transplants, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

In most states, accepting organs from inmates who die while in custody is permitted only rarely and under strictly controlled circumstances.  No state allows donation of organs from executed prisoners....

Utah state Rep. Steve Eliason, who pushed the law through the legislature, said he was inspired by the 2010 death of Ronnie Lee Gardner, a murderer who wanted to donate his organs but was prohibited from doing so.  “How disappointing is that, there’s somebody who maybe wants to atone for his sins in some way,” says the Republican from Sandy, Utah. “It’s a waste of perfectly good organs that could help others.”

Eliason first proposed a bill allowing prisoners to donate organs last year, but time ran out before it could be fully considered.  The next time, it passed unanimously....

Now that the law has passed, records of inmates who want to donate have been sent to Intermountain Donor Services, the agency that manages organ donations in Utah.  They’ve been added to the state donor registry.   “Any time we can expand the donor pool or make people aware of organ donation, we’re supportive of that,” says Alex McDonald, a spokesman.... 

[E]very organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people and tissue donors can help more than 50 people, transplant experts say....  The Utah law does not discriminate between general population prisoners and death-row inmates, Eliason noted. “Any prisoner is able to do this,” he says....

Some may wonder whether people in need would accept organs from prisoners, but Lori Haglund of Salt Lake City says there’s no question.  Her son, Brock Butler, had a progressive liver disease.  He died in September, a week before his 21st birthday, after spending three years on a waiting list for a liver.  “We were acutely aware of what we were asking someone to be giving,” says Haglund, 51.  “For anyone who would be willing, it gives them a chance to give something back.”

Joanne Ford agrees. Although she may have damaged her organs, particularly her liver, with drug use, she still hopes she may one day help others.  “There still may be one or two things that could still possibly be used,” she says.  Donating her organs after death would be one way to atone for her actions — in addition to prison time.  “I feel like I owe society a big debt,” she says.  “I caused a great damage out there.  I feel good about this.”

April 14, 2013 at 07:41 PM | Permalink


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Thanks to the over-reaching, tyrannical lawyer internal traitor, 50,000 people in the prime of life, at the height of responsibility for a family, and with agonizing slowness, die waiting for an organ transplant. I would support the killing of lawyers in the legislatures who are blocking presumptive donation. These are murdering animals. They should be put to death as they put so many others to death by their legal acts.

This time, the Supreme Court is not an obstacle. In Kelo, it uses the word, property, over 100 times. Not once did it use the adjective, real. That means Kelo applies to chattel, such as a corpse. Under its doctrine, all corpses may be seized by the government and used as donors.

I would like fairness credit for the above Kelo information, which almost no one here knew before. When the Supreme Court gets something right, I have no hesitation giving it the credit.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 14, 2013 9:02:54 PM

I'm kind of with SC.

I can't think of a better way for someone scheduled to die to repay society than for them to be humanly killed so that thier organs could be used to give 10-15 or more people a chance at a normal life.

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 14, 2013 11:19:50 PM

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