Ohio Gov. Kasich Delays Execution to Allow Organ Donation

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Ronald Phillips (AP photo)

In what may be the first death penalty case of its kind, an Ohio convicted killer avoided execution with only hours to spare after Governor John Kasich (R) issued a stay for the purposes of organ donation.


Ronald Phillips was scheduled for execution on November 14 for the 1993 beating, rape and murder of a three-year-old girl, Sheila Marie Evans, the daughter of his former girlfriend.


But Phillips asked that his death by lethal injection be delayed so doctors could remove one of his kidneys and transplant it into his ailing mother. He also wants to donate his heart to his sister, who suffers from heart disease, as well as donate part of his liver, a portion of a lung and bone marrow for use by other patients.


Kasich agreed to postpone Phillips’ execution for the organ donation so that Phillips’ request could be evaluated. It marks the first time a governor has taken such action in a capital punishment case, according to medical experts.


“I realize this is a bit of uncharted territory for Ohio, but if another life can be saved by his willingness to donate his organs and tissues then we should allow for that to happen,” Kasich said in a statement.


The transplant surgeries would not be paid for with state funds. But taxpayers could still wind up paying for the operations if the costs are billed to Medicaid, The Columbus Dispatch reported.


Various other issues are to be considered as a result of this unprecedented action, such as security concerns relating to the run-up and aftermath of the multiple operations, and the question of whether or not potential organ transplant recipients would feel comfortable having the organ of a murderer.


“It raises ethical and moral dilemmas and will require some deliberation,” Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Transplant Center director Dr. Robert Higgins told the Dispatch. “It’s unclear how the process will move forward. That’s a logistic nightmare.”


Phillips would return to Death Row after recovering from transplant surgery. His new execution date is set for July 2, 2014.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Who'd Pay to Transplant Organs from Condemned Killer? (by Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch)

Organ-Donor Request Delays Ohio Killer's Execution (by Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press)

Ohio Execution Stayed Over Organ Donation: Is Ronald Philips Dodging Execution Or Seeking A Last Good Deed? (by Nadia-Elysse Harris, Medical Daily)


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