May 25, 2019

A Modest Proposal

The exact numbers are hard to pin down, but the Mayo Clinic, the top organ-transplant hospital in the United States, reports that there are over 100,000 thousand people on waiting lists across the country in need of an organ transplant. In fact, approximately 300 people are added to the list each month. On any given day, 77 people receive a needed transplant, while 19 others die each day waiting for one.

Now at the same time, there are hundreds of convicted murderers on death row throughout the country.  The cost of incarcerating these murderers runs into the millions of dollars, with some states spending more and others less.  For example, one report shows that Maryland spends $3 million on each inmate during the time he or she is on death row.  This amount is so high because, aside from the general financial burden to incarcerate a criminal, additional costs come from investigations, trials, and appeals. In California, inmates on death row cost the state $114 million over the cost of the general prison population.  Keep in mind that most death row inmates are in jail for many years between the time of sentencing and final execution. In Texas, the average length in jail for a death row inmate is 10.26 years. So, the financial burden on the states is enormous.

Which brings me to this modest proposal. Why not kill two birds with one stone? The need for healthy organs for transplant is obvious.  What should be also obvious is that there must be hundreds, if not thousands, of healthy organs in the bodies of criminals on death row. Why not harvest these organs and use them to heal decent, law-abiding citizens?

Think of the financial benefits that would accrue. States with the death penalty would save millions of dollars.  Hospitals that specialize in organ transplants would make millions of dollars. And the transplant recipients would once again be healthy workers whose taxes would add millions of dollars to the state and federal coffers.  It’s a win/win/win situation.

Of course, the squeamish, the do-gooders, and the ACLU would cry bloody murder.  But let’s be honest. Those people on death row are going to die anyway. Why not use their bodies for a greater good?

Or I suppose we could just take frozen human embryos, kill them, and then use their stem cells to grow new organs or repair damaged ones.  Hey, those embryos are going to die anyway. Right?

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Written by
Thomas Addis

THOMAS ADDIS is a retired high school teacher and published author, most recently authoring a children's book, A Gift of Light, which is available at Amazon. An M.A. graduate of Oakland University, he is Associate Editor of Catholic Journal. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and cycling.

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Written by Thomas Addis