Oklahoma lawmaker wants to allow death row inmates to donate organs

Oklahoma Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, is drafting legislation that would allow inmates to donate their organs upon execution. The law would require significant changes to the execution process for inmates who volunteer for the program, and some are calling it unfeasible.
by Graham Lee Brewer Modified: November 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm •  Published: November 5, 2013

By the numbers

• About 135,000 people are on the waiting list for an organ in the U.S.

• About 27,000 people receive transplants every year.

• About 7,000 die waiting.

• Orlowski estimated about 70 Oklahomans on the waiting list died last year before an organ could be found.

• Between 2010 and 2012, the state executed 11 inmates.

Cost concerns

Even had they volunteered for such a program, Dorman and Orlowski agree that many probably would not have been eligible donors because of their poor health or past drug use, raising questions about the financial costs associated with such a small number of potential donors.

Orlowski said he would rather see the money needed to create a new execution system instead put into public education to increase awareness of the need for healthy organs, adding that the best thing anyone can do to help save lives is to register as an organ donor.

Joyce Jackson, a Corrections Department spokeswoman, said department representatives have no official opinion on Dorman's bill.

Jackson did say the costs could be burdensome on an already overcrowded, and, some say, underfunded prison system.

“I would say at this point, we can't afford much of anything,” Jackson said.

Dorman said he is optimistic about his bill's chances in the Legislature, adding that any potential costs associated with the new law would be worth it.

“You can't put a price on life,” Dorman said.

by Graham Lee Brewer
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Graham Lee Brewer began his career as a journalist covering Oklahoma's vibrant music scene in 2006. After working as a public radio reporter for KGOU and then Oklahoma Watch he went on to cover the Oklahoma Senate for eCapitol before joining the...
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