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Condemned Killer tries to Donate Organs after Execution

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by rocketsjudoka, Apr 21, 2011.

  1. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member
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    Just stumbled across this article and its an interesting question. I am against the death penalty but if this man is going to be executed anyway and is wants his organs go to people who need them I think he should be allowed to do so. I can see the ethical problem with harvesting organs from prisoners whether they consent or not but as long as a prisoner is suggesting it why not try to save some lives.

    Curious to see what others think about this.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42667886/ns/health-health_care

    Killer's quest: Allow organ donation after execution
    Ore. death row inmate Christian Longo seeks redemption, but state says no

    An Oregon death row inmate is mounting an aggressive behind-bars campaign to donate his organs after he’s executed, in part to repay society for the gruesome murders of his wife and three young children.

    Christian Longo, 37, says he wants to do more to take responsibility for killing his family and dumping their bodies in coastal bays nearly a decade ago than simply accepting execution by lethal injection.

    “Why go out and waste your organs when you have the potential to go out and save six to 12 lives?” reasons Longo, whose voice is measured and articulate on the phone from Oregon State Penitentiary cell DRU31 in Salem.

    His request to drop his appeals in exchange for being allowed to donate organs has been flatly denied by state corrections officials, who refuse to negotiate with a killer. It’s been denounced in principle as “morally reprehensible” by the nation’s organ donation officials and medical ethicists.

    “I don’t think we want to be the kind of society that takes organs from prisoners,” said Dr. Paul R. Helft, director of the Charles Warren Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics and Indiana University. "To do so would be to use unfree prisoners as a means to an end."

    Lobbying in media, on Facebook
    Longo’s quest, which boasts its own website and Facebook page and was featured in a recent New York Times op-ed piece, renews questions about whether changing inmate donation policies could help ease the nation’s dire shortage of transplantable organs — or whether it relies on an innately manipulative or vulnerable population of prisoners.

    “It’s impossible to be sure that a person who is behind bars is making a decision they would make while walking down the street,” says Jeffrey Orlowski, executive director of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, the non-profit group that represents the nation’s 58 regional groups.

    Ironically, a survey of organ transplant centers nationwide reveals that while taking organs from executed inmates is prohibited, accepting organs from inmates who die of other causes while in custody is permitted, although rarely and under strict circumstances.

    Longo probably has a better chance of donating his liver if he's injured or has a stroke in prison and dies later at a local hospital.

    In such a situation, even the Oregon Department of Corrections couldn’t stand in the way, spokeswoman Jeanine M. Hohn says. “We would not hinder any such donations.”

    Donations after inmates died of injury or illness while in custody have been allowed, though rarely, even in Longo's region, said Mike Seely, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Transplant Bank. "It's happened once or twice in the 20 years I've been here," Seely says.

    Transplant advocates, including those who've received organs, say increasing the supply of available organs is the bottom line, and that willing prisoners should be allowed to donate to often-desperate recipients.

    "I wouldn't have cared what heart I got," says Hiland Doolittle, a 65-year-old writer from Albany, N.Y., who waited two years before his 2009 transplant. "When you can't tie your shoes, you know you're at the end of your rope."

    Opinion: Organs from inmates: That idea should be DOA

    “If someone is sick enough, long enough and wants to live, they’ll gladly take an organ from someone who was incarcerated,” says Joanne Kelley, president of TripleHeart, Inc.,an Atlanta-based support group for heart transplant patients. Her 58-year-old husband, “Kel” Kelly, died in 2008 after living with a donor heart for nine years.

    But death row opponents, doctors and ethicists counter that larger societal questions are at stake that supersede individual demands for organs.

    'Too many problems'
    “I don’t think it’s a calculus that this life can be taken so this life can be spared,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a non-profit group that opposes capital punishment. “I think you’ve got to look at the larger picture. The system that gets put in place once the green light is given for that has too many problems.”

    But Longo figures that he alone could save eight lives through his death, offering his heart, lungs kidneys, liver and other tissues. That would put a dent right away in Oregon’s waiting list, which includes 768 requests, including 13 hearts, 122 livers and 628 kidneys.

    And it could bring down the national waiting list, which on Tuesday totaled 110,772 candidates, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

    “To be able to save so many lives, that means a lot to me as well,” says Longo.

    Such a statement is difficult to square with a man convicted of strangling his 34-year-old wife, MaryJane, and their 2-year-old daughter, Madison, stuffing their bodies in suitcases and then throwing them into coastal waters. He was also convicted of murdering Zachery, 4, and Sadie Ann, 3, by tying rock-filled pillow cases to their ankles and throwing them into icy Oregon inlets in late December 2001.

    And it's hard to hear from a man who went back to work at his job at a local Starbucks outlet in the days after the murders before fleeing to Mexico, where he told people he was a New York Times reporter, went swimming and snorkeling, and struck up a brief romance with a woman, according to court records. When he was caught, he denied the killings.

    “I didn’t want people to believe it was something I was capable of,” says Longo. “The past is the past. Essentially, over time, my conscience got to me.”

    Donating his organs won't atone for the murders, says Longo, who now claims he believes his death sentence is just. It would allow him to do some good, however, perhaps providing comfort to his family.

    "This is a way that I won't fail," he says."It does do something for me from a psychological standpoint."

    As it stands now, Longo has an uphill fight to donate his own organs — or change the system to allow donations from the nation’s 2.4 million incarcerated prisoners, including the 3,261 on the nation’s death rows in 2010.

    Others have tried — and failed — including a convicted killer in Texas, Jonathan Nobles, whose 1998 request to donate his organs after execution was flatly denied as well.

    No organs from executed prisoners
    The use of organs from executed prisoners is censured by the United Network for Organ Sharing, which guides organ donation policies in the United States. The group denounced the practice in 2007 and hasn’t budged on the matter, says spokeswoman Anne Paschke.

    Living prisoners may be allowed to donate organs, but it’s decided on a case-by-case basis at the state and federal levels, officials say. Typically such donations are limited to immediate family members when there’s a confirmed organ match, with the inmate and recipient’s families agreeing to foot the bill for all medical and security costs.

    In Colorado, for instance, Johnny Andino, a 27-year-old inmate at Centennial Correctional Facility, is waiting to hear whether he'll be allowed to donate a kidney to his autistic cousin in California, Brandon Dekeado, also 27. Chuck Dekeado, 50, an Oregon man who is uncle to both young men, says he has been working desperately to faciliate the donation.

    It's not yet clear whether Andino's kidney would be a good match, or who would pay the costs for the operations because the state won't foot the bill, says Katherine Sanguinetti, corrections spokeswoman. If it works, however, Chuck DeKeado says it would provide redemption for Andino, a convicted car thief, and survival for his ailing cousin.

    "This is saving both my nephews' lives," he adds.

    Part of the problem with accepting organs from prisoners, especially after executions, is a practical one, says Dr. Robert Metzger, past medical director with UNOS.

    Organ donations must be performed in hospitals and executions are held in prisons. The three-drug cocktail used in lethal injection may render organs unsuitable for transplant. And, with high rates of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, jail and prison inmates are considered high-risk donors by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and subject to even stricter testing and lifestyle scrutiny than typical organ donors.

    But the core of the problem is philosophical, says Orlowski, director of the association of organ procurement organizations. The specter of China, where two-thirds of donated organs are harvested from prisoners, haunts U.S. transplant experts.

    “As a country, we have a high ethical and moral standard that we shouldn’t do things to people no matter how disadvantaged they are,” Orlowski says.

    That argument frustrates Longo, who petitioned the state of Oregon twice last year to change its position on inmate organ donation. First, Longo asked the state to allow executed inmates to change the method of execution to spare organs, allowing a single drug for lethal injection, a powerful dose of anesthetic, instead of the three-drug protocol that also includes a paralyzing agent and a drug that stops the heart.

    Longo won't drop appeals
    Then he proposed that he would drop his pending appeals — which could stave off execution for a decade or more — in exchange for being allowed to donate his organs after death. In that scenario, Longo says he would be executed within 90 days.

    In both cases, corrections officials denied Longo’s requests, declaring that the best interests of the public and inmates were served by allowing organ donation by inmates under the case-by-case basis that now exists.

    “We do not have interest as a department in negotiating with Mr. Longo,” says Hohn, the spokeswoman.

    Longo now says he won’t drop appeals that seek to challenge his death sentence and overturn two of four convictions. He says he’d rather use the time to lobby for changes in inmate donation policies.

    “I want to continue to give it everything I have to give it the best effort possible,” he says.

    Critics claim that Longo is simply saving his own skin while also seeking the attention and ego-gratification that a killer craves.

    To them, Longo acknowledges that it would help him to know that he achieved a significant goal, even while confined in a 6-foot by 8-foot cell. But, he says, so what?

    "It may set a precedent. It just makes sense. It's practical," he says, adding later: "It will be a big deal not only to have saved lives, but to accomplish something from this position."
     
  2. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!

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    I would bet if they asked people in need of those organs they might be ok with it.

    DD
     
  3. Joshfast

    Joshfast "We're all gonna die" - Billy Sole
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    What!? Violent prisoners actually trying to add value and redeem themselves to a society they committed crimes against?

    It makes sense so I guess it's time for the government to stop it from happening. Prisoners are too valuable as headcounts for the prison system and their unbelievably strong lobby.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. ROXRAN

    ROXRAN Contributing Member

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    His soul will go to Hell, not the body parts...I'm okay with it if it means life for someone innocent.
     
  5. bnb

    bnb Contributing Member

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    I guess the problems might be:

    undue influence/perception of harvesting organs from prisoners. But as long as the prisoner gets no incentive to be a donor I don't see it. Possibly his wishes should be kept secret until after his death so that there's no perception of him being killed early to save another? Seems easy enough to address

    recipient getting a criminal's organ. So you disclose it and offer them the option to decline. I don't imagine many would.
     
  6. rhadamanthus

    rhadamanthus Contributing Member

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    I'm all for it.
     
  7. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost not wrong
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    Blocking *anybody* from donating their organs, either to science, or to medicine, is the dumbest thing I've ever heard of.
     
  8. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member
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    Just to play devil's advocate here. From the article I don't think its an issue about the prisoner's incentive or when it is revealed he is donating his organs but that a prisoner may not be in a position to fully give consent.
     
  9. Qball

    Qball Contributing Member

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    So the doctors are assuming that there may be an increase of death sentences handed out in order to get more organs? Is that what we should be getting out of this?

    But this part...
    Makes it seem that people who oppose this just don't want inmates to have any sense of salvation.
     
  10. bnb

    bnb Contributing Member

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    If you were a governor, considering a stay of execution, would your decision be influenced if you knew there were very sick people who could die without the organs? Are the prisoner's rights compromised if there's a 'silver lining' to flipping the switch?

    I think that's part of the ethical dilemma. Plus the whole exploiting a person in a disadvantaged position angle.
     
  11. langal

    langal Contributing Member

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  12. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    I agree. It is not a simple YES or NO.
    Needs to be thought out completely before implementation.

    As someone alluded too . . .
    We already see prisons as money making venture these days
    [the prison industrial complex]
    Would any one be comfortable with harvesting parts from prisoners?
    How about bartering . . . . More food for my liver . . .etc.
    What happens when someone gets HIV liver from a prisoner.
    The state now has a requirement to be more humane to prisoners. . which they only hear is blah blah blah more money on prisoners blah blah blah

    I am not oppose to it. . but I think it needs to be giving more thought and more regulation/definition before we are all systems GO!

    Rocket River
     
  13. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member
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    I think that is the least of the problems as any prisoner who was slated to donate his organs would probably be thoroughly tested.
     
  14. The Real Shady

    The Real Shady Contributing Member

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    We should execute all prisoners who are in jail for life and harvest their organs for people who can still contribute to society.
     
  15. br0ken_shad0w

    br0ken_shad0w Member

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    Sounds like more of an issue regarding execution method since lethal injections destroy organs anyways. Curious to know what that single drug is.
     
  16. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member
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    I don't think that is too big of an issue as there are other means of execution. Theoretically if they wanted to preserve all the organs they could just put the condemned under general anesthetic and just remove the organs without killing him first. I don't know if that would violate the 8th Amendment though.
     
  17. Duncan McDonuts

    Duncan McDonuts Contributing Member

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    Donated organs are screened thoroughly before transplantation for any toxicity reports or contagious diseases. I wouldn't worry about donated organs being detrimental to the donee other than natural transplant rejection.
     
  18. Air Langhi

    Air Langhi Contributing Member

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    Way too much of a slippery slope. What if we execute an innocent man just to harvest his organs. You can put laws around it, but it is just asking for trouble.
     
  19. brantonli24

    brantonli24 Member

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    Maybe there's a danger of desperate people paying prison officials for certain death row inmates to be executed 'earlier', and forcing them to sign a warrant to donate their organs.

    I honestly have no idea, but I suspect over time, this will eventually become accepted, as the idea of saving a life vs. organs from a human who is condemned to die anyway, the 'saving life' side will gain more supporters.
     
  20. Duncan McDonuts

    Duncan McDonuts Contributing Member

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    Nobody is harvesting organs here. These death row inmates are willing to donate their organs because they know they are going to die anyway. They are giving their full consent, but the legal issue is more of the state not recognizing an inmate has consent to give.
     

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