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Complications on Death Row Organ Donations

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In theory, at least, death row inmates should be able to donate their organs after death the same as anyone else.  Winston Ross of the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard has this story on some of the problems involved in the request of Christian Longo to donate his organs.

The most immediate problem is the three-drug protocol currently used by all death penalty states except Ohio and Washington.  It ruins the organs.  States should go to the one-drug protocol now that Ohio has blazed the trail, but Oregon hasn't yet, and it won't do so just to accommodate Longo.

The other practical problems involve the lack of facilities to harvest the organs immediately after death, which occurs within a prison.

Richard Dieter of DPIC predictably weighs in with nonsense about difficulty in ensuring the donation is genuinely voluntary.  Of course, we routinely take steps to insure that waivers are voluntary in a variety of contexts in criminal law.  We know how.  Then there is this:

There's also a queasiness factor, especially for the families of victims. To the family members and friends of Longo's victims, the idea that his organs will live on after he finally is put to death is a horrifying one.

"I just think they ought to kill every ounce of him," said Cathy Shukait, a close friend of the relatives of Longo's murdered wife and children. "Every inch of him is bad."
As much as I support the interests of the victim's family in these matters -- and it's been a large part of my career -- I just can't buy that.  Criminality resides in the brain, not the heart or kidney.  If the donation of one of those organs could save an innocent life, it doesn't matter how depraved the brain of the donor was.  A heart is just a pump.  A kidney is just a filter.
As a bit of historical context, the First Congress provided for the bodies of executed murderers to be "delivered to a surgeon for dissection."  1 Stat. 113 ยง4.  Apparently there were not enough volunteers to advance the science of anatomy.  However, involuntary harvesting of organs from executed murderers is not a good idea, as it would add one more reason to litigate and hold up executions.

Would the possibility of an organ donation cause a court to deny a stay it would otherwise grant?  I find that pretty far-fetched.  After all, so long as donations are voluntary the inmate could simply revoke his donation.  But an objection being far-fetched never stopped Dieter before:

The doctors who are tasked with removing these organs don't want to work on death row, said Jeffrey Orlowski, executive director of the Association or Organ Procurement Organizations. And they're also wary of getting a recipient ready to receive an inmate's organs only to see a last-minute appeal or a stay of execution, starting the whole process over again.

"There's a conflict there," Dieter said. "A court might not want to delay an execution if it meant a person is going to die" because they couldn't get promised organs.

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