Man Set to Die in 8 Days Wants to Donate Kidney First

Lawyers for Ramiro Gonzales request that his execution be delayed
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2022 4:26 PM CDT
Man Set to Die in 8 Days Wants Delay So He Can Donate Kidney
This image provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Texas death row inmate Ramiro Gonzales, who is set to be put to death in less than two week. Gonzales has asked that his execution be temporarily delayed so he can donate a kidney.   (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

Ramiro Gonzales is scheduled to be put to death in Texas this month, but he's asking to push that date out so that he has time to first donate a kidney. The Guardian reports the 39-year-old shot and killed 18-year-old Bridget Townsend in 2001 and has been on death row since being convicted of the crime. He was reportedly turned on to the idea of organ donation via Michael Zoosman, a former prison chaplain who started exchanging letters with Gonzales in January 2021. Zoosman at one point referenced a woman he knew who needed a kidney, and Gonzales expressed interest in giving one of his own as a living donor. He turned out not to be a match, but apparently remained stuck on the idea of giving one away prior to his death.

His lawyers have filed two requests: for a 30 day-reprieve from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and for a 180-day reprieve from the Texas board of pardons and paroles. Gonzales' lethal injection is scheduled for July 13; the board of pardons will vote on his request on July 11. "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. 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," Zoosman wrote in a letter that was also sent to Gov. Abbott, reports the AP.

Gonzales' lawyers say the transplant team at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston has deemed Gonzales an "excellent candidate." The lawyers say his rare blood type means he could be the solution for someone who is having difficulty finding a match. "Virtually all that remains is the surgery to remove Ramiro's kidney. UTMB has confirmed that the procedure could be completed within a month," the lawyers told Abbott. Amnesty International, meanwhile, is pushing for clemency for Gonzales and cites his abuse-filled childhood, details of which are shared here.

(More death row stories.)

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