A Texas convict who is scheduled to be executed in less than two weeks has requested that his execution be postponed so that he can donate a kidney.
Ramiro Gonzales is expected to be executed on July 13 for fatally shooting Bridget Townsend, an 18-year-old woman from southwest Texas whose remains were discovered nearly two years after she went missing in 2001.
Gonzales’ lawyers, Thea Posel and Raoul Schonemann, requested Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in a letter issued Wednesday to seek a 30-day respite so the convict might be regarded as a live donor “to somebody in dire need of a kidney transplant.”
His lawyers have requested a 180-day respite from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in connection with the kidney donation.
Gonzales’ lawyers included a letter from Cantor Michael Zoosman, an ordained Jewish cleric from Maryland who has been interacting with Gonzales, in their plea to Abbott.
Zoosman penned that he has no question that Ramiro’s desire to be an altruistic kidney donor is not prompted by a last-minute effort to prevent or postpone his execution. He’ll go to his grave knowing in his heart that this is what Ramiro wishes to do to put his soul straight with God.
Gonzales’ lawyers claim that after being assessed by the transplant experts at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, he was considered to be a “great candidate” for donation. Gonzales was discovered to have an uncommon blood type, which means his donation might help somebody who is having problems finding a match.
All that is left is the procedure to remove Ramiro’s kidney. The operation might be done within a month, according to UTMB, Posel and Schonemann emailed Abbott.
Rules of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice enable offenders to donate organs and tissues. Gonzales was judged unsuitable after requesting to be a donor earlier this year, according to agency spokesperson Amanda Hernandez. She did not explain why, but Gonzales’ attorneys stated in their letter that the agency opposed due to the upcoming execution date.
Abbott’s office did not respond quickly to an email requesting comment.
Gonzales’ plea to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is scheduled for a vote on July 11th. Gonzales’ counsel have submitted a second plea to the board, requesting that his death sentence be commuted to a lesser penalty.
They also requested that his death be postponed if his spiritual adviser is not permitted to hold his hand while simultaneously placing another hand on his heart during his execution. A two-day federal trial on this request was scheduled to start in Houston on Tuesday.
Gonzales’ desire to postpone his execution in exchange for organ donation is unusual among death row convicts in the United States, according to Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
Steven Shelton, a convicted murderer in Delaware, gave a kidney to his mother in 1995.
Ronald Phillips’ execution in Ohio was postponed in 2013 so that his plea to donate a kidney to his mom could be examined. Phillips’ plea was later refused, and he died in prison in 2017.
Skeptics will believe that this is only a ploy to postpone the execution. But if that were the case, I believe you’d be inundated with demands, said Dunham, whose organisation opposes death punishment but has questioned how governments carry out executions. “The history of executions in the United States demonstrates that individuals do not donate organ donations in order to postpone an execution that will still take place.”
The United Network for Organ Sharing, an organisation that operates the nation’s transplant system under contract with the federal government, identified many ethical issues concerning organ donations from incarcerated people in a study. They involve if such donations may be linked to inmates receiving preferential treatment or if such organs could be ethically tainted due to their association with the death sentence.