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Organ Donors on Death Row?

by Staff

Tags: organ donation, capital punishment, organ harvesting,

Some look at death row inmates and see the vilest people in the world. Others see victims awaiting murder by the state. Graeme Wood sees organs—viable transplant organs.

Writing for Good, he argues that the methods used to dispatch the inmates make it impossible to harvest their organs for transplants. Instead, he suggests using “the Mayan Protocol,” a process developed by, yes, the Mayans through vivisecting human sacrifices. In this method the organ removal becomes the means of execution. “If this sounds inhumane,” Wood writes, “compare it to current practices: botched hangings, painfully long gassings, and messy electrocutions. Removal of the heart, lungs, and kidneys (under anesthesia, of course) would kill every time, without an instant of pain.”

Such a practice would undoubtedly face hurdles. It has been a long-standing practice that doctors don’t murder patients, a tenet that has prevented them from participating in lethal injections. There is also the concern of consent. Inmates may agree to donate their organs as a way to curry support with judges or prison guards. Wood argues, however, that the real objection to the Mayan Protocol would be symbolic. Victims of families and the public in general don’t want criminals martyred for an altruistic cause.

And, of course, there is the creep factor:

But being creeped out is the price of living in a society that kills its criminals. If organ harvesting would make executions uncomfortably like human sacrifice, perhaps that’s because our death chambers are already gory enough to make anyone but a Mayan high priest pale.

An interesting point, but perhaps our energies could be better spent when it comes to death row reformation. As one commenter on the article notes: Why discuss the best way to kill inmates when we should be trying to end capital punishment?

Erik Helin