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Would You Take An Organ Donation From An Executed Felon?

Would You Take An Organ Donation From An Executed Felon?

In late 2001, Christian Longo murdered his wife and three children. The gruesome details are well documented elsewhere. Let it suffice to say that nobody, let alone children, deserve to die the way they did, especially at the hands of their own father.

Longo murdered his family because he was broke and felt trapped. His business failed, he racked up enormous piles of debt, he moved his family from place to place to avoid creditors, and finally decided he simply did not want to bear the burden of supporting a family of five. He killed his family and fled to Mexico to live under an assumed identity until his capture, trial, conviction and sentencing to death in 2003.

In Canada, there is no death penalty. My personal feelings lead me to believe that the death penalty is wrong and that a just and civilized society does not need to use execution as a punishment. But when I read about crimes like this, I will admit that I waver. A man who annhilates his family and murders his own children… there is a special place in hell for that kind of man, and I doubt there is any hope of redemption.

Longo, however, believes there is a way to find that redemption –  at least in some form. Longo described, in the March 6 New York Times, a suggestion to change the law around organ donation by executed inmates. Currently, no organ donation is permitted, primarily due to the fact that the drugs used to execute inmates destroy the organs in the process. However, there are other drugs that would not destroy organs, and Longo is lobbying the state government to use these drugs in order to allow organs to be donated.

Longo’s point is well taken. Every day, people die waiting for an organ transplant. If inmates are permitted to donate organs, it would provide a new and welcome source to save lives, and to allow convicted felons to at least do some good as their last act; a kind of apologetic redemption.

However, the issues are myriad, with the primary issue being, would anyone want to receive an organ from a convicted murderer, and one who had been executed at that? Indeed, an organ from such a source would have advantages, such as the ability to thoroughly pre-screen the donor prior to donation. But the emotional and mental burden borne by the recipient could be significant. To owe your life or health to a man who, in this example, murdered his family and still shows no remorse would be its own burden. However, would that burden be a consequence that someone who is dying for an organ be willing to make?

There is also the worry that the system could be abused, and felons coerced to donate their organs. Finally, there’s the persistent feeling that giving convicted felons like Longo what they want means that ultimately, they somehow win.

Still, the fact remains that organ donations are needed every single day to save lives. Is this something that should be considered? And what would be the ramifications?

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194 comments

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11:34AM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

To save a life!

12:43PM PDT on May 11, 2011

I do not believe that is the issue to be concerned with. I am concerned that with our repeated errors in prosecution and the needed commodity the state will increase the first to provide more of the second.

5:18PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

not a lot of people donate their organs in fear of doctors not saving them, which is a lame excuse you aint guna use them once your dead anyway,

12:46AM PDT on Mar 24, 2011

In 2007 Mr. Marin Pitu received an experimental emergency liver transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. He was told he would receive a prisoner liver. Instead he received a pediatric liver because that is what was available at the time. He needed this transplant because Kaiser Permanente had failed to diagnose his developing liver disease for years. Even though he went to the doctors, and had regular checkups, Kaiser just couldn't find anything wrong. Here are photos of Mr. Pitu after his transplant. This didn't have to happen. See: http://horror.kaiserpapers.org/kaiser-delay-in-diagnosis-result.html

7:59PM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

If it was needed, i would. they only reason i would not is if i had a choice. i would go with a normal person because i would feel nervous like i was in a horror movie and their organ possesed me that sounds pretty silly, but thats the only negative thing that comes to mind.

7:41PM PDT on Mar 17, 2011

I don't know why this is an issue. Why does an organ recipient need to know where or whom, the donation came from? Isn't it more important to save more lives on waiting lists? I lost a wonderful cousin who was waiting for a new kidney.

6:02PM PDT on Mar 17, 2011

Say I got his heart.... it wouldn't be that I was tainted by receiving the the tainted heart of a tainted man.... it'd be that I "rescued" the heart of a tainted man and made it pure again. A win-win situation!!!

10:08PM PDT on Mar 16, 2011

Why would it be any more emotionally wrenching than knowing your life was saved because of someone else's tragic accident? An organ from an executed criminal is just a piece of meat, albeit an immensely valuable piece of meat if a life can be saved. Why should another family have to mourn the loss of a loved one? Now if they ever succeed in transplanting a human brain, that might be a valid question.

6:21AM PDT on Mar 15, 2011

I would definitely take an organ from an executed felon as long as the organ was still perfectly functional. Personally I believe in the death penalty. If someone has been proven, without any doubts, that they committed a heinous crime, why should I as a taxpayer pay for their 3 meals a day in jail for the remainder of their life? I think it would be great if more people could acquire the organs they need and this is one way to not put those organs to waste.

3:23AM PDT on Mar 15, 2011

Yes, because it is Anonymous, so I wouldn't know where it came from anyway, which kinda makes this article pointless in that respect. If we used an injection that didn't destroy organs, no recipient would know who donated the organ.

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