A Texas inmate on death row requested that the state’s governor delay his execution so that he could donate his kidney to someone in need of a transplant. Ramiro Gonzales was scheduled to be put to death on Wednesday, July 12, but hoped Governor Greg Abbott would delay this for 180 days to save someone’s life. That request was denied, but the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals later issued a stay of execution due to a concern about an expert witness at his 2006 murder trial.
#breaking Ramiro Gonzales granted a stay by the CCA!
The stay was not because of the kidney donation but because of the question of whether he was really a future danger if not executed. pic.twitter.com/tSXt1Bh866
— Keri Blakinger (@keribla) July 11, 2022
- Gonzales has been on death row for 16 years. Now 39, Gonzales was 18 when he was sentenced to death for the murder of an 18-year-old woman. His request to donate his kidney was an attempt to atone for his crimes, his lawyers say.
- The state of Texas does not want him to donate his kidney. The Board of Pardsons and Paroles denied Gonzales’ request on the grounds that it was made too close to his execution date. Meanwhile, Governor Abbott’s office never responded to the petition.
- It’s unclear whether the reprieve will mean he can donate the kidney. Now that there’s been a stay issued, technically speaking, Gonzales could still have surgery to complete the organ donation. However, it’s unclear whether that will be possible or approved.
- There’s a major shortage of organs in the US. Research cited by The Washington Post reveals that an average of 17 people per day die awaiting organ transplants. There’s a chronic shortage in the country, so many are supportive of Gonzales’ willingness to donate his kidney.
- Organ donation from prisoners is a murky subject. “Practical and ethical concerns” have kept many death row inmates from becoming donors, says David Orentlicher, the director of the health law program at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Many experts claim that the organs may not be suitable given the poor conditions at prisons, while others believe death row inmates could simply use the process as a way to delay their execution or to apply for more lenient sentences. “If we have a policy that people on death row can donate organs, will that influence juries when they’re trying to decide or judges deciding about what kind of sentence to impose?” Orentlicher questions. “Well, that could make them more inclined to impose a death sentence, knowing that these people will be able to donate organs. You’d hope that they wouldn’t think that way, but it’s an important concern.”