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Texas inmate on death row requests delaying his execution so he can donate kidney

Ramiro Gonzales has a very rare blood type and has already been matched with two recipients, including a cancer survivor.

Texas inmate on death row requests delaying his execution so he can donate kidney
Image source: YouTube screenshot/KSAT 12

A Texas inmate on death row has requested the governor delay his execution so he can donate his kidney. Ramiro Gonzales, whose execution has been scheduled for Wednesday, has requested a 30-day delay so he can help others have a life. The 39-year-old was sentenced to death for the murder of Bridget Townsend in 2001. Gonzales' attorneys had written to Governor Greg Abbott about Gonzales wanting to donate an organ to a stranger and said this was "in keeping with his efforts to atone for his crimes," reported CNN. Gonzales has a rare blood type and at least two "preliminarily compatible" kidney recipients have been identified, including a cancer survivor in Bellingham, Washington. The inmate's lawyers wrote to Gonzales saying one of the potential recipients had waited four years and was "hoping for a lifesaving kidney transplant." 



Gonzales was 18 at the time of committing the murder. He was looking to buy drugs from Townsend's boyfriend, who was his drug supplier in January 2001. When Gonzales called to check, Townsend answered the phone and said her boyfriend was at work. Gonzales came over to his dealer's house to "steal cocaine." He stole money, tied Townsend's hands and feet and kidnapped her, according to state records. Gonzales drove Townsend to a location near his family's ranch, where he sexually assaulted and fatally shot her. Gonzales later led authorities to Townsend's body and confessed to killing her, according to records.


Judy Frith, one of the potential recipients, also wrote what the delay would mean to them in a letter sent along with the ones sent by the attorneys. "It seems almost impossible, but God moves in mysterious ways," wrote Frith. "Whether or not Mr. Gonzales could donate to me, I cannot emphasize enough what a precious gift you would be giving someone if you allowed Mr. Gonzales the opportunity to donate his kidney." While the Texas Department of Criminal Justice allowed Gonzales to be evaluated for organ donation, it objected to Gonzales' donation on account of his impending execution date. His lawyers have also asked the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend that the governor commute Gonzales' sentence to life in prison. "Imagine a potential recipient who may have been waiting 6 years or more for an elusive Type B kidney, feeling sicker and more hopeless with each passing day," wrote Frith in her letter to the governor. "You have the ability to save that person's life by allowing Mr. Gonzales to donate."



Gonzales had initially wanted to donate his kidney to a member of a Jewish congregation in Maryland but soon learned that he was not a match. He has sought to make an altruistic kidney donation — donate his kidney to an unknown recipient. The agency said it does not allow for an altruistic kidney donation because it could create an "uncertain timeline that could possibly interfere with the court-ordered execution date.'" It was Gonzales' correspondence via letters with Cantor Michael Zoosman, the ordained Jewish clergyman, that encouraged him to donate a kidney. "He still wants to save a life," said Zoosman. "And Texas is denying him that." Zoosman added that Gonzales "never made excuses for what he'd done." Zoosman said that it was he who had mentioned that a person had needed a kidney and Gonzales "jumped on it." He said Gonzales wanted to "make expiation for the life he had taken."


"There's been a lot of discussion in the press lately about who is pro-life and who is not pro-life," said Zoosman, referring to the overturning of Rove v. Wade judgment. "But I can say this: I cannot fathom a more pro-death stance than a state that not only engages in state-sponsored murder of defenseless human beings but one that prevents those in line for that murder from donating their organs to save others' lives."

Ramiro Gonzales' execution was stayed but the decision was not related to his desire to donate an organ, said state officials, reported Houston Chronicle. 

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