A man sentenced to death in Texas has asked that his execution, scheduled for July 13, be postponed so he can donate a kidney.
The man, Ramiro Gonzales, has a lethal injection marked as a sentence for killing a woman, Bridget Townsend, in 2001. At the time, Townsend was 18, and was missing for nearly two years until her remains were found.
Lawyers for Gonzales have asked Texas Governor Republican Greg Abbott to grant a 30-day suspension of the execution so that the inmate can be considered a living donor “for someone who urgently needs a kidney transplant.”
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According to the letter, he was considered an “excellent candidate” for donation after being evaluated by the transplant team at the University of Texas. The evaluation found that Gonzales has a rare blood type – meaning that donating it could benefit someone struggling to find a compatible donor.
According to the lawyers, the medical team that evaluated Gonzales confirmed that the procedure can be completed within a month. The governor’s office did not respond to the Associated Press about the request until the latest update.
Request for change of sentence
In a separate order, the lawyers also asked the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to suspend the sentence for 180 days because of the donation; the request must be voted on on the 11th.
In addition to that request, Gonzales’ lawyers also made a second request – that the council change his death sentence to another sentence.
They also asked that the execution not go ahead if the detainee’s spiritual adviser could not hold his hand and place another hand on his heart during the execution of the sentence. A two-day federal trial on that order is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice policies allow inmates to donate organs and tissue.
The department said, however, that Gonzales was deemed ineligible to be a donor after placing an order earlier this year.. The industry did not give a reason, but Gonzales’ lawyers said in the letter to the governor that the department objected because of the execution date.
The request for a stay of execution to make an organ donation is rare among death row inmates in the United States, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
“Sceptics will think this is simply an attempt to delay execution. But if that were the case, I think there would be a lot of requests,” said Dunham, whose group does not take a stand on the death penalty but is critical of the way it has been used. the states carry out the executions.
“The history of executions in the United States shows that people do not make organ donation offers with the aim of delaying an execution that has yet to take place.”
In 1995, a man convicted of murder in the state of Delaware, Steven Shelton, donated a kidney to his mother. In 2013, Ronald Phillips’ execution in Ohio was delayed so that his request to donate a kidney to his mother could be reviewed. Phillips’ request was denied and he was executed in 2017.