All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!


That's a Question

Let's say you want to be an organ donor.  You fill out the card they give you with your drivers license.  That's it.  When you die the doctors will make a decision about what can be used and harvest it for the benefit of others.  Basically its one last charitable donation on your part as you head off to the afterlife.

There is a great need for it.  The numbers of people waiting for a replacement organ are much greater than the available organs.  One person dies, and another lives.  The first death is unavoidable, irreversible and regrettable but the gift of life is remarkable.

So what about death row inmates?

Child Killer's Last Request Before Execution Is Surprisingly Sweet

He is going to die.  His last request is to donate his usable organs.  Should they let him?

Wait there is more.  Strictly speaking this isn't legal.  Most states require that the prisoner die by lethal injection, these injections tend to toxify the organs killing the subject. The suitability of the organs for transplant is compromised.  Generally this must happen in the confines of the department of corrections, not a proper hospital facility.    Strictly speaking, this isn't exactly ethical for a doctor to do either.  What is required to make this happen is a different method of execution AND a doctor harvesting tissues and organs form a healthy living individual only to let that person die.

So what do you think?

Are you lethally practical, or do other considerations out weigh the potential benefits?


  1. The lethal practicality is to never permit the government to decide that some people need to be harvested for the benefit of others, no matter how obnoxious the donor is and how virtuous the receiver is.

    The best I would accept (as if my opinions mattered) would be a law permitting assisted suicide and the convict entering into a private contract with a private company to end his life, the means to be at their discretion. And if those means left that person with usable organs, then so be it.

    The whole point of having those "ethics" is to prevent what we suspect happens in China where prisoners are harvested for state profits, and the state, using it's monopoly of force, decides who gets to be a prisoner, sometimes just because they are a healthy tissue match. If we lived in such a society, it would benefit poor people to give themselves an incurable disease like HIV or HEP to safeguard themselves from being collected.


  2. Giraffe11:40 AM

    Pass a law specifying that a death row inmate may be killed by organ harvesting. Give him a stay of execution till the law is passed.

    The inmate must do it voluntarily.

    China is going to do what China does. If we get to that point the law won't matter anyway.

  3. In this case the inmate has lost his appeals process and is offering his organs. His hope is that he can give them to family members who are in need. However he has said that anyone who needs them may have them.

  4. WaterBoy6:11 PM

    I sympathize with the inmate's desire to do good in his last days, but I think this shouldn't be allowed mostly for the reason which Prof Hale already outlined. Too much opportunity for potential abuse.

    But there's a flip side to the issue, too, from the perspective of the donee. Would you want yourself (or one of your family members) to get the organs from a child rapist/killer? Not that it's a question of supernaturality (ie, you're also going to inherit part of his evil), but that a little girl died horrendously to bring about the sequence of events which brought the organ to you. While there may be some who say, "I don't care where they come from as long as I get to live longer" (including his sister and mother, the inmate's preferred recipients), I imagine most people would rather not inherit organs from such a person.

    It's not like a potential recipient automatically receives a death sentence if those organs go unused, either; they remain on the list, and may receive the next one to come along in time to do them some good. And while it's also true that a recipient may receive an organ from an equally despicable miscreant who was never caught, the odds are still less than the ~100%* certainty of the killer in this case.

    * The article did not specify whether or not he eventually confessed to the crime, nor the details of his original conviction, so there's still a theoretical possibility that he was wrongfully convicted.

  5. Anonymous10:56 PM

    On the flip side, whose to say that anyone getting the organs would know where they came from? I don't see that as being much of an argument.

  6. WaterBoy12:33 AM

    This is true, though OPTN policy requires complete donor information to be included with any organ transported to another location, and the same information is likely to be known to the surgeon performing removal for same-site transplantation.

    Federal law requires both donor and recipient identity confidentiality, but general information can be shared, especially since "informed consent" of the recipient is part of the organ matching process.

  7. I also see an unmeritous element here. The hardened criminal, receiving his just deserts for his life of violent crime, is intending to play the martyr and be called virtuous. He needs to go to his grave draped in contempt for the life he led that brought him to this end. No mitigation for "giving away" his body parts that he no longer has any use for. He isn't being sacrificial to save a child. He has no choice.

  8. Hale,

    I can kinda see that point. He is going to be dead anyway. Somebody may get some use out of his otherwise useless life.

    I guess another con point that could be brought up is that many of these criminals might not be legit donors because of compromised immune systems due to STD's, Hep A, HIV etc. I assume this would be screened for, but who is to say that they would catch everything in the screen? Criminals aren't known for being the most healthy people.