Graeme Wood is troubled that death penalty victims can't donate their organs. But he has a solution:
Death-row inmates have repeatedly asked to donate their organs, but their requests are always denied. The simple reason is that execution generally ruins organs before they can be harvested. By the time you cut someone down from the gallows or pronounce the injection lethal, the heart and lungs will have thumped and puffed for the last time. Soon after, the kidneys start rotting, and before long nothing is useful but the corneas. Even with beheading still practiced in Saudi Arabiathe heart and lungs probably wouldn't make it, says Douglas Hanto, chief transplant surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
But by using what the bioethicist Arthur Caplan calls "the Mayan Protocol"a term derived from the ancient Mayan practice of vivisecting their human sacrificesthe removal of organs would itself be the method of execution. If this sounds inhumane, compare it to current practices: botched hangings, painfully long gassings, and messy electrocutions. Removal of the heart, lungs, and kidneys (under anesthesia, of course) would kill every time, without an instant of pain.
Nancy Grace gets first dibs.
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