Are you an organ donor? Did you feel a little charge of warm and gushy feelings when you checked that little box on your license, knowing you’re a good person? Well, get in line, buddy — right behind convicted child killer and Ohio death row inmate Ronald Phillips. He’s scheduled to die by lethal injection in a few days, but first he wants to donate his organs.
Wait, what? It’s such a nice gesture … from a death row inmate, it’s hard to believe it’s real. But it is.
Phillips would prefer his organs go to his mom and sister — mom is in kidney failure, sis has a heart condition — but really anyone one will do if he’s not a match for his family. Just so he does a little good in this world. That is if it’s possible for a man on death row for raping and killing a 3-year-old to do some good.
It’s a tough question, isn’t it?
There’s no way to erase a horror that awful. A child is dead, and she isn’t coming back. That said, we can always use more good in this world, can’t we? Especially in light of crimes like Phillps’ that happen every day?
Phillips was sentenced to die for the rape and death of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter back in 1999. Up until last week, the 40-year-old was pushing for mercy from the courts, but now that the Ohio governor has said no way, he’s taken the “donate my organs” path.
Kidney donation can be done from a living donor, and surgery to do it would likely put off the execution, but Phillips’ lawyers claim this isn’t a diversionary tactic. He’s willing to let it all happen after death.
Maybe it’s true, and it’s all on the up and up.
And then again, maybe it’s not, but still, at least two people could have a better life because of this guy. Considering all he’s done wrong, doesn’t he owe the world that? Owe us something better?
This wouldn’t be the first time the thought of making death row inmates’ lives count for something more has been brought up. The idea of having inmates donate their organs is bandied about during many death row debates, but it’s often held back by the concept of the inmate’s right to choose what happens to his body. Even a criminal’s dead body deserves some respect; if only for their family.
But here we don’t have that problem. We have a man who is willing to sign on the dotted line. The ethical dilemmas are gone, and now we face only the logistical ones: should a state adjust its methods of execution for a killer if they’re willing to give life to others?
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, “an average of 18 people die each day waiting for transplants that can’t take place because of the shortage of donated organs.” If we have inmates like Phillips who are willing to help cut that number, is it worth it to give them that chance? Even if it does give them some kind of good karma into the afterlife?
As mentioned earlier, nothing will erase what a man like Phillips has done to an innocent child. But then, the people who stand to gain from his organ donations are innocent too. Shouldn’t we think about them?