Friday, January 7, 2011

Suspended Sentence for Organ Transplant

Just today, the Scott sisters, who had been imprisoned for 16 years after being convicted of armed robbery, were released by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour on the condition that 35 year old Gladys follow through on her offer to donate a kidney to 38 year old Jamie. Jamie Scott requires dialysis treatment at least three times a week ,and her health has been failing in the past few months. Governor Barbour said her acted in part out of concern over Jamie Scott's health, but also to relieve the state of the cost of her dialysis treatment, approximately $200,000 a year. The sisters were originally arrested on Christmas Eve 1993, and were convicted on charges that they led two men into an ambush, during which the men were robbed of about $11, according to the trial transcript. The NAACP has been a major player on behalf of the sisters' release, especially because of the nature of the sentence received for the crime they were charged with. However, some medical ethicists are concerned about the Governor's stipulation of making organ donation a condition of the Scott sisters' release, even though Gladys Scott has volunteered to do so.

Washington Post Article "Conditioned on kidney donation, sisters' prison release prompts ethics debate." December 30, 2010 by Krissah Thompson.

New York Times Article "Jailed Sisters Released for Organ Transplant." January 7, 2010 by Timothy Williams.

1 comment:

Karen Spear, PhD said...

The New York Times has also run op-ed pieces about the disproportionality of the handling of this case over a paltry $11 (see Bob Herbert, Oct. 15, 2010). Medical ethicists are right to be concerned about using organ donation in this way, but this case also raises basic questions of social justice.