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March 9th, 2011
01:06 PM ET

Death Row Inmates & Organ Donation

Should death row inmates be allowed to donate their organs after they're executed?

A man convicted to killing his wife and kids wants to donate his organs.  Oregon state law says no because of the lethal injection process and the fact that he would have to be executed at a hospital instead of the prison.  Click here to check out the story and leave your comments below.


Filed under: Ali Velshi • Anchors
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Dave C.

    Of course they should! Enough people suffer at the hands of these individuals while they are alive, why extend that further into their death? Granted someone may not want the organ of a known murderer, but that is the decision of the individual in need once the organ becomes available. Let these inmates TRY to do some good.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  2. Larry M

    Absolutely Not! Every organ of the body carries the DNA patterning of the individual. The specific "muscle memory" is encoded with the same patterns at the donating person. The same characteristics which developed within the criminal will carry the same genetic code into the recipient, as the deepest core.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  3. Stephen

    With all the people in the world who need organs its amazing our system doesn't have a procedure in place to allow death row inmates to donate.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  4. Kandis Albertson

    I do believe that as long as the organs can be harvested according to the criteria for organ harvesting, they should be able to be donated. My father spent over 3 LONG years waiting on a transplant list for a kidney and a pancreas. He was on death's doorstep when those organs finally came avaiable. Another month and he probably wouldn't have been with us any longer. No matter where they come from, they save someone's life!

    March 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  5. AL

    I think death row inmates should be able to donate their organs, because they are going to die anyways and why not donate their organs and make their tragedy someonone elses fresh start on a new life.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  6. Abit

    nope! Victims should be respected ....it would allow these criminals chances to become heroes by donated their organs , we don't need his help and we don't want to see him again. he is evil man!

    March 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  7. Mick C. Malkemus

    Administering nitric oxide would painlessly put a condemned prisoner to sleep, death follows quickly. All organs are intact.

    That the criminal justice system will not consider this option is deplorable. Organs can be harvested effectively after the death penalty is carried out, and ethical considerations of selling organs to the highest bidder could easily be surmounted.

    Death by lethal injection is the last cruel and unusual method we have for the death penalty. Nitric oxide provides an alternative method that can actually do a society some amount of good. Of course, prisoners would have to opt into this program, it could not be forced upon anyone.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  8. AJ

    Of course we should let convicted murders who are sentenced to death donate their organs. This is an intelligent way to allow a human being who has made the ultimate mistake to begin to make up for their transgressions. Allowing useful organs to be buried with their sins is the second tragedy after the murders they have committed.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  9. D. Coleman

    Heart donation after cardiac death is not possible. The only organs suitable for transplation would be the liver and kidneys due to "cold" time. Heart and lung donation can only occur after brain death in an extremely controlled environment. Also, as an organ recovery specialist, we recover organs, we do not harvest.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  10. Moe

    Absolutely Not!!! I agree with Larry M..
    Why risk and put an organ of a killer into someone else???

    March 9, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  11. Lillian

    Yes. It's as simple as that. If he must die in prison then put him on life support and move him back. Or have the harvest team come to the prison . They could also take everything they could without technically killing him and then give the lethal injection. I bet they would be able to find a willing doctor to perform the harvest. Just think of all the people who's lives would be saved/improved.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  12. Alex R

    Yes, not only do I believe that they should have the right to donate their organs, it should be mandatory that they do. We have a shortage of organ donations in this world, and requiring them to donate their organs will mitigate that need, as well as redeem them in a way for all the wrong they have done to themselves and others.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  13. JSC

    Organ donation is can only proceed under certain circumstances. Not all organ donors acutally get to donate. Clearly the circumstances which will end this inmates life DO NOT facilitate organ donation, therefore it shouldn't happen. It seems like he's just trying another stall tactic since all his appeals are now exhausted.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  14. Racquel

    I worry what lethal injection and drugs will do to a death row inmate's organs and whether it's right to donate to someone who is already in ill health.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  15. Vinny

    Ali,

    I agree with this organ donation(s) provided the prisoner agrees to be executed by hanging or a bullit to the head. I understand that the law states he would have to be executed in a hospital. So be it!

    I am sure they could find a doctor to perform this procedure if he knows other lives can be saved. Especially a doctor who does transplants and sees the suffering of one that needs an organ.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  16. Bob

    Yes, they should be able to donate their organs providing they don't have any deseases that could harm a recipient.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  17. TomInNJ

    When he is executed – ALL of him should be executed!

    March 9, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  18. David Gage

    The Chinese have been doing it for some time. So just like we are learning that we must be as productive in the workplace if our businesses are to succeed we should also learn from the Chinese what can be done to add to our society some value versus simply wiping it out one piece at a time.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  19. debbie macarthur repp, rn

    As an RN with long public policy experience in the challenge of assuring an adequate supply of donation organs I am opposed to prisoner donators – often members of high risk HIVAIDS groups. They can donate their bodies to universities (like Queens) so that future nurses & docs, and their patients, can benefit. Best of luck to you – even if you're not a fellow McGill graduate.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  20. Frank P.

    If they are convicted in a court of law then they shouldn't have a choice in the matter and every viable organ should be harvested. Other people should be given new life from their righteous death.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  21. Ivry N.

    I think they should be allowed to donate and the means to do so provided. Organ donation maybe the last chance of redemption for those truly remorseful for the actions of life.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  22. Katie McKay

    PLEASE STOP USING THE TERM HARVESTED...
    It is an arcane term that is not used in the field of organ and tissue donation. If you are going to report on topics that are extremely emotionally charged on both sides and whose history is riddled with bad information being fed to people, those of us who are working to try to disseminate faulty information would greatly appreciate you getting all of your facts and getting educated on the topic before we have to pick up the pieces.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  23. Duane - Woodbury, MN

    Death row inmates should absolutely be able to donate their organs. Recipients in need should however, be informed who the organ is coming from. Even someone in need of an organ may have a problem taking one from a murderer or rapist.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  24. Paul Shelby

    duh....'yeah!.....there is a need....a life could be saved....he's going to die anyway.....WHEN ARE WE GOING TO STOP BEING STUPID!...what if your dying daughter needed a kidney to live...it's just unbelievably STUPID...not to harvest all death row inmates, mandatory.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  25. Katie McKay

    On the actual topic. I think that I don't really know if I agree or not, if he wants to, it should be his choice, but I am not sure if being a prisoner if he has the choice to decide what happens since he broke the law and doesn't have the same rights as the everyday person. But on the other hand every 10 minutes another person is added to the transplant waiting list and so many died before that transplant comes so I don't know what the best answer is. I Do, however think, that everyone should be an organ donor. Maybe they should see if he was a registered organ/tissue donor before he was incarcerated and try to find a way if he was before he was put in prison...

    March 9, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  26. Jennifer Hicks

    This is a no-brainer. We are in desperate need of organs! If we're willing to take these people's LIVES into the hands of the court, let's accept their ORGANS as well.

    @Moe: Saying that an organ from a murderer is a risk is like saying that a Jew donating an organ will make the recipient Jewish. That's nonsensical. I'll repeat, we are in desperate need of organs.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  27. greg

    I believe the only way you can donate your organs is to be executed by a firing squad. All other methods destroy the organs. So they would have to allow these people to be killed by firing squad. None the less, I am completely for it. My father was saved by a lung transplant, I don't care who gave it to him, I am thankful.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  28. A.K

    I do not think that they should be able to donate their organs, because it is widely believed that when a person donates an organ that traits of the person that donated it are then in a sense given to the the person that took the organ. I personnlay knew a woman that got an organ transplant at the age of 44. one day she jsut feel liek jumping in a pool and discvoer she can swim! Even tho she had a fear of water. So she trakes down the (this was not in the U.S) and found out that the girls whos organ she had got was a professional swimmer. i wouldnt want to take the risk of giving someone an organ of a psychopath.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  29. Peter

    It should be remembered that in China prisoners have been forced to give up organs. How soon could something like that start happening?

    March 9, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  30. Judie Williams

    Absolutely NO...and who would want to be a receipitant of any organ that comes from a person who has been at risk for diseases i.e.
    AIDS, HEPATITIS, etc. I would hope that each state has the law preventing organ donations of prisoners.

    I personally interpret this as "buying time" and wasting the courts time and the tax payers money.

    If he is so "charitable" why did he kill in the first place? Another con by the con.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  31. Dennis in Oregon

    Christian Longo's gene pool should be drained. We don't need the genes of this monster on the planet anymore.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  32. Jenny Eisenberg

    For our legal system to prevent such donations is equivilent to playing a part in the potential death of someone whose life could be saved. Murder is indirectly being committed by preventing organ donations coming from convicted prisoners.

    I believe that once the prisoner makes the decision to donate organs, they should be harvested and used to save lives.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  33. davina theriaque

    i think, that they should sell the organs TO RECOUP THE MONEY
    THAT IS SPENT ON keeping the inmate in for their time in prison!

    March 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  34. Jewli Judd

    OF COURSE!

    My son's father died a year ago while waiting for a liver transplant. However, since there are not too many inmates on death row who are actually put to death, the wait may be too long. Perhaps we should execute more inmates!

    March 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  35. Deb

    There is always a cry for people to donate their organs. Why not allow these people to do something good for society before they leave?

    March 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  36. JF

    Using the death penalty for organs donation seem to me unmoral. In an advance society, we don't kill people to use their organs

    March 9, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  37. B. King Casey

    The life force and DNA of a person is in the blood and body tissue. Who wants the DNA and life force of a murderer, killer and/or rapist? Think of the transplant recipients that say they have urges or a craving for things they never had before the transplant, only to find out that their donor craved or like the same things according to the donor's family..

    March 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  38. Debra Goichman

    I am woman that is alive today because of a double lung transplant ten months ago. That required that someone donate their organs not only to me but several other people when they passed on. I was sick for ten years and days away from saying good-bye to my children. I think folks might not be so worried about where their organs were coming from when they are laying in that bed. Those on the waiting lists and the wonderful transplant teams would be more than grateful for a new pool of donors. We have none to spare thousands are waiting every day!!

    March 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  39. Callie

    I have a friend on death row and a friend waiting for a liver. The hospital transport issue, and the chemically "tainted" organs is not enough of an excuse for me. We are puppets of the government, and this is just another ticket to the show.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  40. Shirley Mikos

    Yes I beleive if someone takes a life they should take their organs and give back life.We hear about cutting the deficit,and crime if we would start making examples ,of the people who are caught without a doubt murdering ,quit making tax payers pay for their stay in prison for years to life, that would save how much? I really believe and eye for eye ,and if you take a life , you should have to give up your life , and give life back.Would the murders think twice if they knew their life would be gone if they took a life?

    March 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  41. Barb

    I agree with all the writers advocating donation. Many people have express valid reasons and they show thought. This country could devise a way to procure these organs. I also think that the recipient should be allowed to "pass" on these organs without being penalized for their choice.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  42. Jennifer Hicks

    @Judie Williams – Of course they're going to make sure the organ is healthy. No respectable doctor would blindly transplant a potentially unclean organ.

    I cannot understand at all how anyone can disagree with this idea. Instead of thinking from the point of "who would want a killer's organ?" or "when they die, all of them should die!" Organs SAVE LIVES regardless of their donor.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  43. Robert Boggan

    Any organs that can save a life should be allowed to be donated.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  44. Lori

    I imagine if you were the one waiting on an organ and there was an organ shortage and you were offered the option of having the organ of a death row inmate what would your choice be? Live or Die? Most people want to live very badly so if that's the case then they would take the inmate organ. I guess if it bothered a person that badly to be implanted with an inmate organ then they should make peace with their maker and plan on death instead of life.

    March 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  45. martin

    Yeah, thats just what we need , criminal organs...Come on, isnt there enough death around the world, other than criminals...I cant believe how stupid, and too far advanced we are going, I think the people dreaming up these ideas, should set down thier crack pipes, and join the rest of us here on earth...!!!!Or put a large rubber band around thier forehead, and snap out of it...

    March 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  46. Aaron

    An organ from a murder will not make you a criminal regardless of DNA sorry Larry. If organs are to be donated the inmate should be tested for STD's prior, it has been estimated that 40% of inmates have some form of disease. For the family's that have so much hatred and have the desire to watch a man or woman be executed in any manor rather than to save the lives of many I find this very selfish. I think after years of my tax dollars being used to pay for their food clothing medical education etc... inmates organs should be used. members of our society that need an organ have and will continue to give back to our community. should an inmate have the choice to organ donors (No its a death sentence,) not a heroic act. Inmates that have been tried and convicted by a jury of peers and has been seen as unfit and sentenced to death row should be candidates.

    April 4, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  47. Cody H.

    To Larry M. and anyone who agrees with him, you are completely ignorant to think the way you do. To believe that getting an organ from a killer or someone who broke any crime therefore makes you a criminal or would give you criminal thoughts is completely wrong. DNA does not determine the way you act. It can have major roles in some behaviors but each person is individual and its not like some sci-fi movie where they can put a brain in another body and then that body is now a new person.

    March 2, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  48. alhart

    I believe that we should not just allow but make it manditory that a death row inmate must give there organs upon their death. and really that would be more humane than ripping their head off. they could be tested to make sure they are healthy, taken to the hospital. put to sleep, and all organs harvested. by testing them and knowing when they are going to be put to dealth makes the most out of something bad. one human body if harvested correctly can save many lives. even eyes can be used. once the organs are out, machines are shut off and they can then be sent for cremation. but ohio's new head ripping off thing is gross and cruel.

    May 23, 2014 at 9:57 pm |

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