Unprecedented OH Execution Delay for Organ Donations Raises Many Questions


Questions abound after Ohio Gov. John Kasich's unprecedented decision to postpone Ronald Phillips' execution: Who pays his transplant bill? What are the ethical and logistical concerns? Will anyone want organs from a child rapist/killer? The Columbus Dispatch says halting an execution to allow an inmate to donate his organs is unprecedented in the U.S., leaving experts like Dr. Robert Higgins of Ohio State University's Comprehensive Transplant Center at a loss about what happens next. “It raises ethical and moral dilemmas and will require some deliberation,” he said. “It's unclear how the process will move forward. That's a logistic nightmare.”

Higgins, a cardiac surgeon who has performed transplants, is past president of the United Network for Organ Sharing, the national organization that coordinates organ donation and distribution. Currently, 120,597 people are on the network, including 3,508 in Ohio, waiting for transplants, mostly kidneys. Many die before their names come up for a match. Phillips, 40, was to be executed yesterday for the 1993 beating, rape and murder of the 3-year-old daughter of his girlfriend. Less than 18 hours before his scheduled lethal injection, Phillips got word that Kasich would honor his request to be given time to donate nonvital organs, including what he hopes will be a kidney to his mother.

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