« Is AG Eric Holder going to stay on the job until he truly reforms American criminal justice? | Main | If concerned principally about saving lives and public safety, can one reasonably oppose mass use of safer-driving technologies? »

November 15, 2013

"One death row inmate supporting another in organ-donation fight"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable NBC News report in the wake of Ohio Gov. John Kasich's surprising decision to postpone the execution of child-killer Ronald Phillips to explore if he can donate his organs prior to (or during?) his execution (as first reported here).  Here are the details:

An Ohio convict's quest to donate his organs when he's executed is getting support from an Oregon death row prisoner who made a similar bid two years ago. Christian Longo, who was sentenced to die for murdering his wife and three small kids in 2001, told NBC News in an email that he reached out to Ronald Phillips, whose execution was just postponed so his organ-donation offer can be studied.

The "contact was rejected," Longo said. But he's still lobbying for Phillips to be given the chance to give away his organs at death — a proposal that experts say is an ethical and logistical minefield. “With a little bit of careful planning and coordination, lives can be saved from someone who has to die – up to eight lives with organs, and the enhancement of dozens more lives with tissues and tendons,” Longo wrote.

“There is no need to be in a rush to execute Mr. Phillips, who will die regardless. Not when there are so many innocently waiting on transplant lists for healthy donors who may die otherwise. To deny this is a perpetuated tragedy,” Longo said.

Longo's donation offer has been repeatedly turned down by Oregon authorities, and all executions are on hold anyway after Gov. John Kitzhaber declared a moratorium last year....

Medical ethicists say allowing such donations could give juries and judges an incentive to impose the death penalty and that prisoners could be coerced into giving away their organs. Organs are usually removed from people who are brain dead but whose bodies are otherwise functioning, and some experts say it would be impossible to replicate that scenario during an execution.

"The only options for executing someone to obtain vital organs is to either shoot them in the head or chop their head off and have a team of doctors ready to step in immediately," said Arthur Caplan, a professor of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center. Theoretically, he said, the method of execution could be the removal of the organs under anesthesia. "The problem is no doctor is going to do it," he said. "It violates all medical ethics and now you're making the doctor the executioner."

Longo — who has a website and a Facebook page for his campaign, Gifts of Anatomical Value from Everyone — is also pushing states to allow prisoners who are not condemned to donate non-vital organs, like a single kidney. He helped Utah inmates push for a new Utah law, passed in April, that allows them to register as organ donors.

Recent related posts:

November 15, 2013 at 02:30 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "One death row inmate supporting another in organ-donation fight":


"There is no need to be in a rush to execute Mr. Phillips, "

And the real impetus is exposed, delay delay delay.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Nov 15, 2013 3:56:20 PM

Soronel --

Nailed it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 15, 2013 4:44:28 PM

Kill him! What do you think this is? Saudia Arabia where Kings have mercy? This is America. Kill him fast. Shoot first and take organs later.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Nov 16, 2013 12:10:38 AM

Lib: I want to hear about murder victims from you. Otherwise, your sarcasm is from ordinary left wing, rent seeking criminal lover bad faith. The idea behind your sarcasm is to maintain government make work jobs of no value to the public.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 16, 2013 4:05:24 AM

Liberty1st --

"Kill him! What do you think this is? Saudia Arabia where Kings have mercy? This is America. Kill him fast. Shoot first and take organs later."

He committed his four murders 12 years ago, so executing him now would hardly be "fast." How much more delay do you propose before it would be proper to carry out the jury's sentence?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 16, 2013 9:05:30 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB