Texas Inmate Requests Delayed Execution for Kidney Donation

Carolyn Crist

July 06, 2022

A Texas inmate, who is scheduled for execution next week, has requested a 30-day reprieve so he can donate a kidney.

Ramiro Gonzales, 39, is set to die by lethal injection on July 13 for fatally shooting 18-year-old Bridget Townsend, a Southwest Texas woman whose remains were found almost 2 years after she vanished in 2001, according to The Associated Press.

Gonzales' lawyers submitted a formal request to Gov. Greg Abbott last week to postpone the execution so the inmate could be a living donor to "someone who is in urgent need of a kidney transplant."

The lawyers have also made a separate request to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles for a 180-day reprieve related to the kidney donation, the AP reported.

In the request to Abbott, the attorneys included a letter from Cantor Michael Zoosman, an ordained Jewish clergyman from Maryland who has corresponded with Gonzales since January 2021, according to The Independent. Zoosman is an anti-death penalty advocate and former prison chaplain.

"There has been no doubt in my mind that Ramiro's desire to be an altruistic kidney donor is not motivated by a last-minute attempt to stop or delay his execution," Zoosman wrote. "I will go to my grave believing in my heart that this is something that Ramiro wants to do to help make his soul right with his God."

Gonzales' attorneys said he's been deemed an "excellent candidate" for donation after being evaluated by the transplant team at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, the AP reported. The evaluation found that Gonzales has a rare blood type, which means that his donation could help someone who might face difficulty finding an eligible match.

"Virtually all that remains is the surgery to remove Ramiro's kidney," the lawyers wrote. "UTMB has confirmed that the procedure could be completed within a month."

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice allows inmates to make organ and tissue donations. An agency spokeswoman told the AP that Gonzales was deemed ineligible after making a request to be a donor earlier this year, which his lawyers attributed to the pending execution date.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is set to vote on the request on July 11.

"How can I give back life?" Gonzales told a reporter with The Marshall Project. "I think this could be probably one of the closest things to doing that."

Gonzales' attorneys have also made a separate request to ask the Texas board to commute his death sentence to a lesser penalty, the AP reported.

Sources

The Associated Press: "Texas inmate asks to delay execution for kidney donation."

The Independent: "'How can I give back life?' Texas death row prisoner asks for execution reprieve to donate kidney."

Twitter: @keribla, June 30, 2022.

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