St. Mary's Law Journal


Organ transplantation continually brings hope and new life to thousands of patients suffering from a myriad of diseases. Despite the advances in medical science and the increased survival rates of organ recipients, many are unable to receive an organ transplant because the demand for organs drastically exceeds the available supply. Much of the organ deficit lies in the current system of organ procurement. The altruism-based organ system leaves the donative decision to the individual; however, it is this system which hinders effective organ procurement. Under this system, the donor must give prior consent before a doctor can remove any organ. Texas prohibits organ procurement from condemned prisoners and does not allow them to voluntarily donate organs after death. Although this practice would not solve the organ deficit crisis, it could potentially save the life of a person in desperate need of a transplant. Opponents cite China’s harvesting and sale of organs as a reason not to implement such legislation; arguing that the number of executions would rise without justification, and the organs of executed prisoners would be taken without consent. The United States and China, however, drastically vary in capital punishments, procedure, and accountability of executions. The proposed system would only allow prisoners to voluntarily donate their organs and would not sell them to the highest bidder. Instead, the organs would go to patients registered on the national organ donation list. The death row inmate’s organ would also go through stringent exams to ensure its viability and avoid the spread of diseases. The competing concerns that condemned prisoners should not be able to donate organs is considerably outweighed by the benefits of saving lives.


St. Mary's University School of Law