Thu, Dec 01, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Death row inmate wrote of desire to donate more organs

Staff Writer, with CNA

Taipei City Councilor Angela Ying, right, accompanies a niece of death-row prisoner Cheng Chin-wen in Taipei on Monday after one of Cheng’s kidneys was transplanted to save his ailing sister. Ying and Cheng’s niece showed reporters a letter written by Cheng.

Photo: CNA

A death row inmate, who had one of his kidneys removed on Monday to give to his ailing sister, said in a letter he wrote before the operation that he wished to use his remaining organs to save more people.

Cheng Chin-wen (鄭金文) wrote that he would offer whatever righteousness that came from the organ donation to the people he murdered.

The 100-plus Chinese-character letter was made public on Tuesday by Taipei City Councilor Angela Ying (應曉薇) after the operation at the Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in New Taipei City (新北市).

In the letter, Cheng expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Health (DOH) and the public for giving him “a chance to show remorse” and to apologize to the families of the people he had murdered.

Cheng is believed to be the first ever living death row organ donor in the nation’s history.

He decided to give his sister one of his healthy kidneys after the Supreme Court in June finalized his death sentence for strangling two debt collectors to death in 2004 and burying their bodies in the woods in Keelung.

The request was approved by the hospital’s medical ethics committee on Wednesday last week after passing reviews by the ministry and DOH.

The operation, which began at 11:20am, was successful and concluded at 2:20pm, an hour earlier than scheduled, said Chen Kuo-hsin (陳國鋅), the surgeon in charge.

The donor was recovering well, Chen said, while the sister who received the organ was still under observation given the risk of organ rejection.

Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), the DOH’s director-general in charge of medical affairs, said the department did not encourage the lobbying of death row inmates to have them donate their organs after being executed because of the potential ethical disputes that could arise.

The DOH believes, however, that the potential for disputes is eliminated if such inmates voluntarily agree to donate organs while they are alive, he said.

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