An American death row inmate set to be put to death in less than two weeks has asked that his execution be delayed so he can donate a kidney to someone in need of it.
Ramiro Gonzales is scheduled to receive a lethal injection on July 13 for fatally shooting 18-year-old Bridget Townsend, a southwest Texas woman whose remains were found nearly two years after she vanished in 2001.
In a letter sent by Gonzales’ lawyers, Thea Posel and Raoul Schonemann, asked Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to grant a 30-day reprieve so the inmate can be considered a living donor “to someone who is in urgent need of a kidney transplant.”
His attorneys also made a separate request to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles for a 180-day reprieve related to the kidney donation.
In their request to Abbott, Gonzales’ attorneys included a letter from Cantor Michael Zoosman, an ordained Jewish clergyman from Maryland who has been corresponding with Gonzales.
“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.
Gonzales’ attorneys say he’s been determined to be an “excellent candidate” for donation after being evaluated by the transplant team at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
The evaluation found Gonzales has a rare blood type, meaning his donation could benefit someone who might have 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,” Posel and Schonemann wrote to Abbott.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice policies allow inmates to make organ and tissue donations.
Agency spokeswoman Amanda Hernandez said Gonzales was deemed ineligible after making a request to be a donor earlier this year.
She did not give a reason, but Gonzales’ lawyers said in their letter that the agency objected because of the pending execution date.
Gonzales’ attorneys also made a separate request asking the board to commute his death sentence to a lesser penalty.
They also asked that his execution not proceed if his spiritual adviser isn’t allowed to both hold his hand and place another hand on his heart during his execution.
A federal trial on the latter request was set to begin on Tuesday, July 5.
Gonzales, an inmaten with seventh-grade education, was convicted of fatally shooting 18-year-old Bridget Townsend when he was 18. Her remains were not found for two years.