The Norman Transcript

November 8, 2013

Organs from death row


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — At first glance, state Rep. Joe Dorman’s proposal to harvest the organs of death-row prisoners to be donated sounds like something out of a horror novel.

Mr. Dorman, D-Rush Springs, wants to enlist volunteers to donate their organs just before being executed by the state. The difference in this plan is that the prisoner would remain alive while the organs are taken, since the lethal drugs used to kill them would taint the organs.

Rep Dorman’s goal is to save as many lives as possible. Many Oklahomans on transplant lists die each year waiting for donated organs. But it doesn’t amount to very many cases, and the expense to the state Department of Corrections would be considerable.

Oklahoma Corrections officials already are asking for an additional $31 million next fiscal year just for bed space, not to mention the need for corrections officer salary increases. The added costs of placing surgical teams inside prisons would be significant.

If the added cost were instead put in donor education programs to increase awareness of the need for healthy organs, it might produce more transplants.

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