Organ Transplants for Prisoners

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In the article “Wanted, Dead or Alive? Kidney Transplants in Inmates Awaiting Execution”, Jacob M. Appel argues that, despite the criminal justice system’s view that death-row inmates deserve to die, they should be given the same opportunity to extend their life as anyone else. “The United States Supreme Court has held since 1976 that prison inmates are entitled to the same medical treatment as the free public” (645). “When it comes to healthcare, ‘bad people’ are as equal as the rest of us” (646). When someone is sentenced to execution it is decided by the criminal justice system, not the medical community. The justice system views these peoples’ social worth as so low that they deserve to die for the crimes they have committed. “The state’s determination of social worth only finds that the condemned prisoner no longer deserves life—a far higher bar than a determination that he or she is no longer worthy of healthcare prior to death”(646). In the medical community, the goal is to save lives. Appel also points out that even though kidney transplants do increase survival rates over dialysis, just because someone doesn’t get a transplant, this does not necessarily mean that they will die. He says that kidney transplants tend to be more of a life-enhancing surgery, as opposed to a life-extending surgery. On the argument that to give a kidney to someone who will die soon anyway is a waste of a perfectly good organ; Appel says this objection is invalid. A small percentage of death row inmates are ever actually executed, seventy-five percent of death sentences are appealed and overturned and that one in fifteen death row inmates is acquitted. Because of these statistics, Appel says that to ignore these peoples’ requests for kidney transplant would be morally wrong.

Robert M. Sade’s article “The Prisoner’s Dilemma: Should Convicted Felons Have the Same Access to Heart Transplantation as Ordinary Citizens?” argues that whether or not criminals should receive heart...
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