OK Lawmaker Works To Allow Death Row Inmates Donate Organs - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

OK Lawmaker Works To Allow Death Row Inmates Donate Organs

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An Oklahoma lawmaker is considering legislation to allow death row inmates the option of donating their organs before they are executed.

Democratic State Rep. Joe Dorman of Rush Springs says inmates would be put to sleep. Then, organs would be harvested while they are kept alive by a machine. When the execution hour arrives, that machine would be turned off.

Every year, about 70 people in Oklahoma die waiting for transplants. Dorman says he wants to do anything he can to lower that number.

"I know there are a lot of concerns, and we want to do what we can to make sure that we do this the right way," said Dorman.

Concerns include cost, ethics and practicality. Critics warn against turning an execution chamber into an operating room.

"To create that kind of environment in a prison would be extremely expensive, given that we're talking one to two [potential inmate] donors a year," LifeShare CEO Jeff Orlawski said.

Norman resident Nita French received a kidney and pancreas 12 years ago and is in good health now.

"When you're sick, you really think … I'd take organs from pretty much anywhere right now," said French.

French believes taxpayer dollars would be better spent on recruiting new donors in general. Dorman says dollars saved by not buying poisons for lethal injection could help pay for organs to be taken from the sedated, live human.

"There would have to be considerations put in effect in the statutes to make certain that doctors do not violate their oaths," said Dorman. "Certainly, the cost is going to be a consideration, but again, what is the value of a life," asked Dorman.

If Dorman's proposed legislation becomes law, Oklahoma would become the first state to allow death row inmates to donate their organs. Nationwide, roughly 20 people die each day waiting for organs.

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