Woman in need of kidney: Death row inmate could save my life

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(NewsNation) — In June, Ramiro Gonzales, a death row inmate in Texas, asked the state for a 30-day reprieve so he could donate a kidney.

Gonzales is convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering a young woman in 2001. However, Gonzales has a rare blood type, making a potential donation especially valuable.

At first, Texas said no. But weeks later — just two days before Gonzales was set to be executed — the state’s court of appeals granted a stay on an unrelated issue from his trial.

Now, the debate over kidney donation is heating up once again.

Judy Frith, a potential recipient of the kidney, told NewsNation’s “Banfield” on Thursday that the wait for a kidney with her and the inmate’s blood type is up to six years. The wait for other kidney types is three to four years.

“It’s very rare to find somebody that wants to do a live donation in the first place. It’s very brave. I think it would be a shame if Mr. Gonzales wants to do that, and he’s not allowed to,” Frith said.

Frith added that if she can get the new kidney, she’ll finally be able to take her grandkids camping and swimming.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 13 people die every day while waiting for lifesaving kidney transplants, but some say the ethics of prisoner organ donation is tricky.

Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, noted on “Banfield” that “Mr. Gonzales meets all the qualifications for a donor under Texas policy. So it’s more a question of the state’s intransigence than it is of any real practical problems.”

Meanwhile, some people believe that allowing death row inmates to donate their kidneys is exploiting the prisoners. Michael Zoosman, the founder of “L’Chaim! Jews Against the Death Penalty,” who has been working with Gonzales, said that isn’t the case here.

“Abolish the death penalty, and you’ll find that these people are sincere and still want to do it. Ramiro now still wants to donate his kidney, even though he has no execution date hanging over his head. I do not believe that this is exploitative. I believe it comes from the heart with a sincere desire to make right with his God,” Zoosman said on “Banfield.”

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