Inmates Who Die In Prison Should Donate Their Organs

Subject: Health Care
Type: Process Essay
Pages: 8
Word count: 2055
Topics: Disease, Medicine, Organ Donation

There has been an ongoing controversy surrounding the need for prisoners on death row to donate their organs to save lives. According to recent statistics, there is a limited supply of organs for transplantation while the number of patients expecting the organs keeps increasing. As a result, experts have suggested potential sources of organs to save lives of people in need of such organs. One of the potential sources of organs is from inmates who die in prison. Particularly, some of the inmates face execution while others succumb to different conditions. Many of the prisoners have expressed their willingness to donate their organs to save the lives of other people. However, there are both physical and ethical barriers that prevent prisoners from donating their organs. Since the prisoners represent willing donors who recognize the value of such organs, they should donate freely. Prison authorities should honor the requests of prisoners who would like to donate their organs and create a positive impact on the society. As highlighted above, the controversy surrounding organs from inmates has been ongoing for several years.

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Some prisoners who recognize that their organs would be valuable in saving lives express their willingness to donate them after death. There is a common perception that prisoners are people without morals that persuade authorities from giving them the privilege to participate in moral actions such as donating organs. However, many of the prisoners recognize their evil deeds and the harms they caused to the society. They are well aware that it is impossible to remedy their evil deeds. Many of the inmates have expressed their regrets and remorse concerning their previous deeds. Despite their crimes, they recognize the importance of saving lives. Rehabilitation programs in prisons encourage inmates to regain their moral consciousness (Goldberg and Frader 15). As a result, they have the conviction that donating their organs would have a positive impact on society. For this reason, it is baseless to deny them the opportunity to donate their organs.

The basic concept in the issue surrounding organs from inmates should be the efforts made to save lives. Particularly, there are individuals in dire need of the organs. The willingness of prisoners to donate their organs would serve to lengthen the lives of several people. For this reason, it is advisable to allow prisoners to donate their organs. The utility of the donated organs to individual patients and their families would be highly significant if inmates donate their organs (Lin et al. 1775). It is true that inmates who die in prison may be significantly low. However, the inmates’ value of their organs to the recipients in immeasurable. In an era where the waiting for transplantation organs gets longer each day, it would be irrational to prevent inmates from donating their organs. A critical analysis of the appropriateness of this act of donating organs by inmates should focus on the impact it has on individual patients. The lives of some patients entirely depend on the willingness of one individual to donate organs needed for transplantation. Consequently, the evident need for the organs serves as a convincing reason that should motivate authorities to establish a policy that allows inmates to donate their organs.

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Prison administrations should permit organ donation by inmates as long as they make the decision voluntarily and provide informed consent. Notably, an appropriate donor should not take the move of donating organs under any form of coercion. Individuals have the right to choose whether to undergo any form of surgical procedures. Inmates who consider the option of donating their organs after their death should recognize the process involved and make an informed decision (Strzelczyk 606). As long as there is donor autonomy, then there is no reason to deny the inmates the opportunity of saving a life. Many of the prisoners are aware of the process involved, and they have willingly sought for the provision of such an opportunity. Unfortunately, the prison administration has remained adamant to grant their wishes. It is time to honor the wishes of inmates who voluntarily offer to provide organs to patients in a critical condition. It is imperative to respect their wishes and allow them to experience the benefits of making a sacrifice for others and saving the lives of others. If the prisoners make an autonomous decision to donate their organs, they have recognized their moral obligation in helping others. It is only reasonable to allow them to fulfill their newly recognized moral obligation. For many of the inmates, donation of their organs represents a significant act that depicts their humanity. For this reason, the charitable act of donating their organs to save the lives of others is honorable.

The issue of a voluntary donation of organs by prisoners has become a contentious theme. Particularly, there has been a major discrepancy on whether prisoners volitionally and voluntarily donate organs or whether they are in the form of compulsion by the prison wardens and the state. Some researchers have been keen to highlight the conditions governing life in prison. It is imperative to acknowledge that prisoners may not be in a position to make a voluntary decision (Longo). Under the guard of the wardens, prisoners exhibit a high level of despair. They adapt to all the conditions introduced by the wardens. There is a fear that the prison wardens can persuade or compel the captives to donate their organs in return for certain privileges. Such coercion contravenes the rules governing organ donation. Consequently, it is not easy to ascertain that prisoners can voluntarily donate organs without any form of coercion. However, it is possible to establish the ground on which prisoners are willing to donate their organs. Through extensive and comprehensive analysis of their conditions, it is possible to determine whether the decision is out of free will or under coercion. Before organ donation, the prisoners must understand that the rules that govern donation demand that an individual can only give voluntarily. Interviews with the prisoners willing to donate organs can help in establishing whether the prisoners are under any form of compulsion (Caplan 5). Physicians should help willing prisoners to make an informed decision regarding organ donation. With the proper support, prisoners can successfully save lives through organ donation.

Despite the need to legalize organ donation by prisoners, there are certain challenges that critics have highlighted. Particularly, many critics believe that numerous practical barriers will prevent the successful donation of the organs by prisoners. Particularly, these critics have presented the case of prisoners on the death row. Many of these prisoners on the death row face execution in agreement with the requirements of the capital punishment. The manner in which executions occur does not provide an opportunity for successful organ donation. Unless the system is willing to introduce changes in the process of execution and provide a favorable environment for organ donation, critics argue that the proposition will remain impractical (Truog and Miller 675). It will be necessary for the execution process to conform to the reality of organ donation if prisoners participate in the charitable act. The increasing opposition surrounding the donation of organs by inmates is because the process of execution may compromise the safety of the organs (Longo). Particularly, some of the methods used during execution are bound to register negative effects on the organs. While these arguments are valid, the system can make room for adjustments and allow inmates to donate their organs. Currently, the healthcare sector is desperate for sufficient organs that can meet the needs of patients. For this reason, it is possible to create adjustments that will facilitate the successful organ donation for the willing donors in prison.

Other critics have expressed concerns over the quality of organs that prisoners can donate. In their arguments, they have made it explicit that many of the prisoners are prone to developing different communicable diseases as well as opportunistic infections that are prevalent in prisons. As a result, critics view inmates as marginal donors who may not provide valuable organs. However, the opinions of experts concerning the quality of organs reveal that inmates can yield well-functioning organs that will benefit patients in need (Longo). As a result, experts believe that the factors that make inmates marginal donors do not have a significant effect on the quality of the organs. Particularly, these experts have the conviction that donor variables do not have a remarkable effect on the expected outcomes of the transplant. It is explicit that prisoners represent potential donors who may save lives if they donate their organs willingly (Caplan 3). It is unreasonable to exclude them because they are marginal donors. It is time to view the issue critically and recognize that some prisoners may provide perfect organs that are viable for transplantation.

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The potential transmission of diseases has also been a major concern for many critics of organ donation by prisoners. Few of these critics recognize that a thorough screening will determine prisoners who qualify for donation. Currently, there are advanced diagnostic procedures and screening tests that can determine the suitability of organs from any willing donor (Brezina 24). With the technological advances used by physicians, it would be almost impossible to accept organs from prisoners who do not prove medically fit. For this reason, the issue of transmitting diseases should not be a concern in determining whether to allow prisoners to participate in organ donation. In all cases of organ donation, physicians carry out a thorough screening and critical analysis of the screening results before they accept organs from the donor. In the case of prisoners, repeated screening tests will be able to demonstrate whether they are fit to provide their organs for donation (Longo). In the twenty-first century, many transplantation cases have proven to register positive outcomes because of the rigorous screening processes in place. As a result, it is time for critics to recognize that there are processes in place to address the concern of the potential transmission of diseases.

Moreover, there have been concerns surrounding compliance with the existing rules of organ donation. Particularly, the principles of organ donation make it clear that the donor must be dead before the process of organ removal. It is evident that prisons can exhibit compliance with this requirement by bringing along the appropriate personnel for the procurement operation of organ removal after the declaration of death (Longo). It is possible to abide by all the existing rules of organ donation that promote the dignity of the donor and respect the value of life. It would be extremely wrong to use organ removal as the appropriate mode of executing prisoners. If the prisoners donate their organs, then organ removal would only come after their death. It is possible to arrange for making the two processes distinct to facilitate the smooth removal of organs from willing donors who are in prison (Caplan 4). The concerns surrounding the principles of organ donation are valid. However, it is possible to make the necessary arrangements and create a platform that allows prisoners to donate their organs and ensure that the process conforms to the existing rules.

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The limited supply of viable organs for transplantation has become a major issue in the healthcare sector. Stakeholders in this sector have considered the potential of getting organs from inmates who die in prison. However, there have been concerns surrounding the practical and ethical nature of such a move. It is clear that inmates have the ability to make an informed decision on whether they would like to donate their organs or not. Some of the inmates have a strong moral conviction that persuades them to donate their organs and save the lives of patients who are in a critical condition. There is a need to create the necessary arrangements that allows prisoners to willingly donate their organs and register a remarkable impact on the lives of patients and their families (Caplan 4). Apparently, such a provision will register benefits to both the donors and the recipients. Policymakers should consider the potential impact of such organs on the lives of patients in a critical condition. The quality of organs that inmates can yield and the transmission of diseases to recipients should not be a concern because of the existing rigorous screening tests.

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  1. Brezina, Corona. Organ Donation: Risks, Rewards, and Research. Rosen Pub, 2010.
  2. Caplan, Arthur. “The Use of Prisoners As Sources of Organs–An Ethically Dubious Practice.” The American Journal of Bioethics, vol. 11, no. 10, 2011, pp. 1-5.
  3. Goldberg, Aviva M., and Joel Frader. “Prisoners As Living Organ Donors: The Case of the Scott Sisters.” The American Journal of Bioethics, vol. 11, no. 10, 2011, pp. 15-16.
  4. Lin, Shu S. et al. “Prisoners on Death Row Should Be Accepted As Organ Donors.” The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, vo. 93, no. 6, 2012, pp. 1773-1779.
  5. Longo, Christian. “Giving Life After Death.” The New York Times, 5 Mar 2011, p. 1, Accessed 15 July 2017.
  6. Strzelczyk, Janusz. “Preliminary Report from a Prison Survey: Should Prisoners Be Considered As Organ Donors?” Annals of Transplantation, vol. 18, 2013, pp. 604-608.
  7. Truog, Robert D., and Franklin G. Miller. “The Dead Donor Rule and Organ Transplantation.” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 359, no. 7, 2008, pp. 674-675.
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