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New Utah law allows organ donations from prisoners


".....Utah’s governor, Gary R. Herbert, signed the first state law on March 28 that explicitly permits general prisoners to sign up for organ donation -- and cracks the door to the controversial option of allowing death-row inmates to donate as well........Whether to accept organs from prisoners has long been a thorny issue. Ethics experts say it pits questions of coercion of a vulnerable population against the desperate need for organs in a country where nearly 118,000 people are waiting for hearts, kidneys, livers and other life-saving transplants, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

In most states, accepting organs from inmates who die while in custody is permitted only rarely and under strictly controlled circumstances. No state allows donation of organs from executed prisoners........Others argue that there are also practical barriers to prison organ donation, such as high rates of disease, difficulty of retrieving organs quickly and execution methods that render organs unusable.

But not everyone believes those barriers should deter donation. Utah state Rep. Steve Eliason, who pushed the law through the legislature, said he was inspired by the 2010 death of Ronnie Lee Gardner, a murderer who wanted to donate his organs but was prohibited from doing so....."

China to phase out prisoner organ donation


"BEIJING — State media are quoting a top health official as saying China will phase out the practice of taking organs from executed prisoners.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu as saying Thursday that organ donations from condemned prisoners will be abolished within five years. It said hospitals will rely instead on a national organ donation system that is being set up.

China has a huge population in need of transplants but few donors. Most donations come from condemned prisoners. The government says prisoners volunteer to donate organs but rights groups say there are concerns that inmates are pressured to comply before execution.

China performs more executions annually than any other country.

China refuses to say how many prisoners it puts to death each year. Amnesty International estimates it is in the thousands, far more than the number of executions in all other countries combined. The San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation estimates China executed 5,000 people in 2009.

In 2009, the country's Health Ministry and the Red Cross Society of China this week launched a national organ donation system to reduce the reliance on death row inmates and encourage donations from the public, the China Daily newspaper reported.

At the time, Chinese health officials said about 1.5 million people in China need transplants, but only some 10,000 operations are performed annually.

In 2007, medical officials agreed not to transplant organs from prisoners or others in custody, except into members of their immediate families.

Also, regulations introduced in 2007 bar donations from living people who are not related to or emotionally connected to the transplant patient.

The scarcity of available organs has also led to a black market, with brokers able to arrange transplants within weeks for Chinese and foreigners willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars. The transplants are also hugely profitable for hospitals.

The China Daily said traffickers have been selling organs from people pressured or forced into donating to people unrelated to them since the tighter regulations went into effect in 2007.

Arthur Caplan, professor of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, told msnbc.com that it is "ethically inexcusable that the world tolerate killing to obtain organs for transportation."

"The practice should not stop in five years," he said. "It should stop in five minutes!"

25 Responses
649848 tn?1534637300
I guess I wouldn't be too keen on getting an organ from an executed prisoner, but in the case of a kidney or other organ that could be donated while the prisoner is still alive (and s/he stays alive), might not be a bad thing.  If that prisoner is healthy (i.e has no diseases, etc) and is willing to donate, is a match and can keep someone else alive, why not?  Maybe that would be part of paying a debt to society?

Avatar universal
Avatar universal
If that prisoner is healthy (i.e has no diseases, etc) and is willing to donate, is a match and can keep someone else alive, why not?

I agree.

I hear you about paying one's debt to society, but I think the act of giving in and of itself is better kept separate from any sort of debts..you know it gets hairy when it comes to legal issues.

649848 tn?1534637300
If one gives, in and of itself, is that not paying a debt to society?

And of course, legal issues must always be taken into consideration.
Avatar universal
If one gives, in and of itself, is that not paying a debt to society?
Yes, absolutely.
As I see it it should remain a personal decision between the donor and his/her conscience.
Wouldn't want anyone else involved in the decision making is all I meant. You know how our Govt likes to stick its nose into everything. :-)
649848 tn?1534637300
"As I see it it should remain a personal decision between the donor and his/her conscience.
Wouldn't want anyone else involved in the decision making is all I meant. You know how our Govt likes to stick its nose into everything. :-) "

Totally with you there....... no one else decides, but the prisoner involved; no coercion, etc.  Keep the gov't out of these things.
Avatar universal
Just a scenario that struck me:

Prisoner decides of his/her own free will to donate a kidney.  During the procedure, the prisoner dies....

I foresee the prisoners family going after either the jail system (because their loved one was a "ward of the state") while imprisoned.  Also potentially going after the doctor who performed the surgery and in a real sick case, going after the person who was to benefit from said surgery.

We live in such a litigious society these days.  The potential legal ramifications of this kind of bother me.  The above prisoner's family could say that "he was not of right/sound mind" or he was "coerced".....  just bothers me.  
Avatar universal
There are consent forms and waivers and procedures to take care of that.
I think you're trying a little too hard to find a downside.
Avatar universal
649848 tn?1534637300
Litigation is a downside to just about everything these days, but as Mike said there are forms and waivers to be signed and certain protocol to be followed.  

Things can go wrong in any surgical situation; of course, someone could sue, but I wonder how far would they actually get in a court of law, if everything were documented, proper forms/waivers executed and all procedures were followed to the letter?  
163305 tn?1333672171
As a transplant survivor I find this a bit creepy.
Why isn't more being done to encourage
live donors from throughout society ??
Why the focus on prisoners?

I don't think prisoners should be banned from being donors but I find something disturbing about this law.
649848 tn?1534637300
Haven't seen you on for a while, so welcome back......

I agree that more should be done to encourage live donors from all walks of life.

I'd never thought of it before, but apparently, prisoners have not been allowed to donate organs before... this law is simply allowing them sign up to be organ donors.
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