Should Prisoners Be Allowed to Donate Organs & Tissue?

Should Prisoners Be Allowed to Donate Organs & Tissue?
Help Change Prison Policy TODAY!

Now’s your chance to tell a prison directly what you think about whether they should allow their prisoners to donate organs and tissues. Currently, 26 state prison systems have specific rules governing inmate organ and tissue donation. 24 do not.

In an effort to continue raising awareness for the possibilities of prisoner organ donation and to help save lives, GAVE has begun officially petitioning the remaining 24 prisons to form rules to allow inmate donation. Additionally, because none of the 26 that already have rules explicitly allow prisoners the ability to donate to anyone but immediate family members, we are following up with efforts to effect policies that let prisoners donate to anyone in need. With nearly 2 million prisoners, many of whom are healthy and would like to donate, and 24 people who die from a lack of a needed organ or tissue in the U.S. each day, this is an important mission. This is a mission that you can take part in right now, today!

Below you’ll find a Petition to Amend Oregon Department of Corrections rules to allow organ donation to anyone in need. Oregon currently has NO rules governing organ donation from its prison population. We’re hoping to change that immediately. Simply read the attached proposal, or the highlights below, and click on the email provided to comment directly to the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC). But hurry! ODOC is only allowing comments on the petition until Wednesday (June 24th)!

Email comments to the Oregon Department of Corrections now at:
birdie.worley@doc.state.or.us

Petition info & Highlights:
– Over 135,000 Americans are in need of an organ or marrow transplant to survive. Oregon has approximately 900 patients on waiting lists, over 700 of whom need a kidney.

– Without specific guidelines, any decision to allow or disallow inmate donation will not be appropriately and consistently governed, and the likelihood of effective viable organ donation is prohibitively diminished.

– Oregon laws recognize the right of all adults to be organ donors without distinction between inmates from non-inmates.

– Living donors are the best option for successful and healthy organ donation. Technological advances now make living organ donations safe.

– Willing prisoner donation is one of the safest options for healthy living donations. Prisoner’s health can be monitored more closely and tested more affectively than other donor groups.

– The Department of Corrections bears no liability in any case of civil action related to prisoner organ donation.

– The Department of Corrections vision statement expresses the goal, “Enhance the Quality of Life for Oregon’s Citizens.” Allowing the option of inmate donation and setting guidelines to govern such donations to maximize the probability of successful transplants satisfies that goal by bringing a lifesaving benefit to the community on a grand scale.

Ask the Oregon Department of Corrections to amend inmate health rules to allow healthy prisoner organ and tissue donation now through the following address:
birdie.worley@doc.state.or.us

Thank you for your consideration and continuing support of prisoner organ donation!

GAVE
contactus@gavelife.org
http://www.gavelife.orgclongo 4_27 (4)

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Request Denied

The following is a guest blogpost by Micheal Flinner, a San Quentin death row inmate who has also been fighting for the right of prisoner organ & tissue donation.

We are fated to spend our days in an earthly purgatory, exiled from society by our own actions in many cases. It can be fairly said that the population behind the myriad walls and fences of the nation’s correctional facilities represent significant destructive force, that through our deeds, lives have been destroyed and property lost.

At the same time, in the greater world there is an existential crisis for more than 125,000 Americans. They cling to life and hope in the face of unspeakable pain and horror, waiting for the gift of a life-saving organ transplant.

The government has an absolute duty to protect its citizenry. That is the rationale for the imprisonment of so many, that and the concept of repayment of societal debt, rehabilitation, restitution, and punishment for transgression. The word “penitentiary” says it all — a place to learn penitence.

Why is it then, if the government protects its citizenry, and the objective of imprisonment is to shape positive outcomes for the prisoner, with a population exceeding 2 million incarcerated, that those in the “free world” awaiting organ and tissue transplants are deprived of wiling donors?

That’s right! There is, for whatever reason — be it apathy or oversight, or the outright and backward thinking of the eugenic bigot — a complete lack of any program or protocol for the incarcerated to willingly donate living vital organs and tissues to those under sentences of death without them. In rare cases it may be possible for an inmate to donate to a family member, but the bureaucratic impediments are so substantial that people literally die while awaiting the results of the request for approval.

It is ironic that an entire population of this country is excluded from the rolls of the willing. The government protecting our society?

Why is it that the state can take life, labor, income and time from the imprisoned, ask us to “rehabilitate” ourselves, yet deny us the chance to make the ultimate restitution — literally the gift of life, the only act that can transcend all others? Meanwhile, the sick languish in such numbers that demand far outstrips supply for matchworthy donors and the benevolent state, in its infinite wisdom, allows this to go unchecked.

What one could rationalize as ignorance or intentional indifference soon becomes murkier.

On San Quentin’s death row, they will move hell and earth to keep alive the sick, elderly, and terminal cases so that they can face the executioner. They will literally stave off death by heart attack or diabetes, over the “DO Not Resuscitate” instruction of an inmate, in the name of “justice.” However, when it comes to heroic measures on behalf of its “law abiding” citizenry, there is no such action to keep them alive. Ask youself what is askew with that set of priorities.

If you believe that I overstate the case, ask yourself this: Why is it that anyone who gets their driver’s license is asked if they wish to donate organs in the event of death, yet once one leaves the “free world” nowhere in any file or form are you able to do this? You may have been a organ donor when you were free, but as soon as you pass into purgatory, you identification is taken and you are issued a prison number with no such provision. How many organs are wasted every year? The numbers are truly astounding.

It is shameful and sick that such an oversight had to come to light in such a pace as hopeless as death row before anyone was moved to do anything about it. For all the “evil” that exists behind prison walls, a greater evil would be letting a single individulal perish when there are untold riches in the form of the willing masses who have a number beyond their name. Allow those who wish the opportunity to make a difference, to better the world, to better the life of someone in need, and to better themselves. To make restitution by giving life. What is justice if it isn’t the act of making something good come of something bad? The same logic is true of the opposite too. To create something bad from good intentions would be an injustice.

It is an issue that doesn’t know bipartisanship. Death is the great bipartisan. Get involved. Ask your representatuves why a single person would be denied the opportunity to live if there is a chance to save them while more than ample resources exist — living or deceased?

Certain of these efforts are blossoming online, and I hope you’ll join in them in favor of this long overdue agenda.

Jonathan and Michael Flinner
inmateorgans@gmail.com

facebook, twitter, instagram /InmateOrgans

You can write Mr. Flinner on San Quentin’s Death Row:
Michael Flinner
CSP-SQSP #V-30064
San Quentin, CA 94964-0001greenbiz sanquentin

Hate me, don’t hate life

Hate Me, Don’t Hate Life
By Christian Longo

Somebody died less than an hour ago who didn’t need to. They needed a kidney, but one wasn’t available. 23 more will face a similar fate throughout the day, most from kidney failure, but others needing bone marrow, a liver, maybe a heart. During this month, which happens to be ‘National Donate Life Month’, just over 700 more will likewise needlessly pass away… about 9000 more this year.

I raised my hand over 5 years ago to donate one of my healthy kidneys and marrow to anyone in need. My offer was quickly rejected by the prison I live in. Prisoners all over the country similarly offered theirs. Almost as quickly, the prison systems they live in prevented them from giving life too. Since then, roughly 45,000 innocent people have lost their lives in part for the fact that we are behind bars.

During this ‘National Donate Life Month’, the transplant community and those who are passionate about the need for organ and tissue donations in this country are raising their voices in unison in an attempt to increase the odds of survival for some of the 135,000 who need your spare parts now. If you pay attention, you’ll see donor drives crop up in your area where you can support donor efforts monetarily or by registering to be placed on organ and tissue donor roles to personally help save lives in the future. If you’re especially empathetic, you may choose to sign up to gift one of your healthy kidneys or to painlessly donate bone marrow now. The need is literally life and death, so hopefully you’ll consider what you can do to help out.

But there are thousands of unnoticed prisoners around the country who would gladly join in those efforts, who have been trying to do so for years, shouting from the dungeon of society. We are healthy and willing, but largely ignored. To us, we are being discriminated against for no other reason than because we live in cages. We can give life today, but because of something we did in the past, we are hated. Ironically, we, the ones who have actually sinned against society, are now prevented from repaying society in the best and most needed way. We are altogether rejected as organ and tissue donors.

I committed the worst crime on the books. I committed capital murder four times over. You should hate me. But that’s no reason for you to hate what my healthy body can provide. By denying my kidney or bone marrow now, or the dozens of other parts of me that would save lives or be useful to up to 50 others after I die, nothing is accomplished other than guaranteeing the deaths of all those who need my parts.

Hate me, don’t hate life.

Let me and the thousands of other healthy and willing prisoner donors give life now, before more thousands on transplant waiting lists die needlessly.


Go to GAVElife.org to see how you can ‘Get Involved’ and help prisoners and other pointlessly ignored groups of willing donors give life.

Swing by DonateLife.net, BeTheMatch.org, & UNOS.org, to see how you can become active during National Donate Life Month.

Transplant Policy: SO 1994!

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By Christian Longo

What if everything stopped in 1994? No more improvements. No modern advancement. Sadly, the selfie wouldn’t exist. Traumatic, for sure. That one that Ellen made famous from the Oscars for the most re-tweeted photo ever would probably still be lost somewhere in a ‘One-Hour Photo’. Although, 12-year-olds would actually know what film was. But there would be no Twitter. No Facebook. No ‘Lord of the Rings’. ‘Harry Potter’. Only ‘Forrest Gump’.

Well, we can debate what actually qualifies as “improvement”. That is unless we’re talking about things that are obvious on their face, like medical advancements, especially ones that have proven to literally be lifesaving.

Think of any major medical issues. Go ahead, pick some. Oh wait, this isn’t a Skype call. I’ll pick. Uhmm, Chicken Pox. In 1994, about 4 million kids got it every year. Now? Less than 30,000 cases per year. How about malaria? 1994, over a half a billion. Today? Less than half that. Mosquitoes be damned. Diabetes. 1994’s leading cause of death by disease. Now… 6th leading cause. If we were stuck in 1994, we still wouldn’t have a handle on what now have common fixes, cures or vaccines. Unnecessary itching, sickness and death would be occurring at greater rates than ever. Fortunately, more than 20 years of ‘future’ has happened. We’re not stuck in 1994, much to the satisfaction of everyone but Fuji & Agfa. (Film companies, to you 12 year olds out there.) Oh, and prisoners who want to be able to donate their organs.

1994, 20 years ago precisely this month, was the year the transplant community stopped accepting our blood and organs for what was then a very practical reason. The AIDS concerns in the years prior had ramped up to a point of crisis. From 1985 to 1990, the number of people infected with HIV in the U.S. had more than quadrupled. By 1994, it was an out of control epidemic. For many, life truly was like a box of terribly tainted chocolates. At the time, the ability to diagnose the AIDS virus was in its infancy — the Commodore 64 of the testing industry. The tests of the day were only able to look for the buildup of antibodies the body releases to defend against an invading virus, which could take months to appear. Because of that, someone could become infected and not even know about it until 6 months after the fact, despite repeated testing in the meantime. This resulted in the passing of the infection to untold numbers of people from unknowing individuals who believed they were completely HIV-free. Some of those people were altruistic sorts who chose to donate organs, blood, or other tissue, which in turn infected people who were already struggling to survive from other life-threatening conditions.

Once the medical community caught wind of this, they smartly sealed off the transplant borders to all who were classified as “high-risk”. Gay men, IV users, prostitutes, and prisoners were now labeled person’s non donate -able. 1994, the fences went up, imprisoning all of our organs and tissue securely from those who needed them. The CDC put out the donor exclusion criteria in May of that year, and the transplant community grabbed tightly to them as if they were commandments written from on high. Henceforth, all inmates and others with the letters ‘HR’ (for high risk) on our sweaters have been prevented from entrance into the pearly gated organ or tissue donor registries.

But that was over two decades ago. Surely advancements have been made since then that would allow an unsealing of the borders for us willing donors. “Surely” is right! Significant advancements have been made indeed. That diagnostic “technology’ that was out while “Home Improvement” was the #1 rated TV show in the land, finally advanced to being able to detect the virus itself within 10 days, right about the time that “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” was taking over. By the time all of those ‘CSI’s started, HIV was detectable within a week. Today, HIV can be detected in 5 days. With appropriate testing now available, the days of passing on HIV through organ or tissue donation have gone the way of cassette tapes and Yugos. Yet, the borders are still sealed. We prisoners are sitting here with perfectly usable parts with no outlet for our goodwill. Worse, there are tens of thousands of people unnecessarily tethered to dialysis machines, waiting in line for someone to appear before it’s too late for them. If only the transplant community and prisons would unmire themselves from the mud of the 90s and evolve into the new millenium before compact discs become extinct and more lives are needlessly lost. By not changing with the times for those who may not have a future, the past becomes their prison. Release them with our healthy organs. Let us give.

“The future must be shaped or it will impose itself as catastrophe.” Henry Kissinger

(For more on the transplant community’s sluggishness to evolve, Google: ‘Sarah Murnahan’)

Ohio Executes Eight Innocent People in One Day!

By Christian Longo

‘Ronald Phillips cannot donate his organs today because he will not be able to recuperate in time to be healthy enough for his scheduled July execution date.’

Did you do the same “What!?” double-take I did? I didn’t believe my eyes either, and I live on death row. In my decade of experience as a condemned man, I’ve learned that the prison system occasionally takes the scenic route to creatively respond to inmate requests when not wanting to allow an inmate to do something. But this rationale, even by their standards, is extaordinarily absurd. It is, however, the true story answer Ohio’s prison decision-makers issued last month to death row inmate, Ronald Phillips, who was expecting to donate a kidney to his waiting dialysis-machine-tethered mother. His prior November execution date was stalled by Ohio governor, John Kasich, to allow the prison time to reconsider their earlier denial of the condemned man’s wish to donate his organs before or after his execution. The prison’s first denial came the week Phillips was originally set to be executed. This, according to a prison spokesperson, was because the request came “at a very late hour.” Somewhat understandable, even through the eyes of a biased death row organ donation proponent. Reportedly, Phillips made the request just a few days prior, making it challenging for the prison to develop a means for coordinating all of the pieces necessary to accomodate such a wish. Without a prior precedent, this was nearly an impossible undertaking on such short notice.

Fortunately, though, Ohio’s governor stepped in, freeing up the time necessary to reasonably consider such a lifesaving request. As he said at the time, “If another life can be saved by his willingness to donate his organs and tissues, then we should allow for that to happen.” Shortly thereafter, the prison powers acquiesced to a middle ground. They would allow Phillips to give, but only prior to his execution — a kidney to his mother. Of course this wasn’t the post-execution, all-organs donation precedent we were hoping for. But if a life could be saved from a willing death row donor, GAVE would back the decision. In response to inquiries made to the prison, we were told, “Donation arrangements are being made. We’ll issue a press release as more news becomes available.” We waited for the good news.

The above not-exactly-as-expected news arrived a few weeks ago. Evidently in January, the prison informed Phillips attorney that Phillips & his mother would have a small window of time to make the necessary arrangements. Specifically, the transplant would have to be made by March 23 in order for Phillips to have ‘100 days of recovery time’ prior to his execution. That deadline week, another letter arrived saying that since it appeared the donation would not be arranged in time, Phillips could not donate. The governors’ office issued a follow-up statement that they would not extend the execution date, and that was that. It is generally safe for a kidney donor to drive a car 2 weeks after surgery. Donors typically return to office jobs 10-14 days after the procedure, or to more physically demanding jobs within a month. But evidently you need 3 1/2 months to recoup enough to be strapped to a gurney to be executed.

The prison administration managed to trump their ridiculousness by further stating that any hopeful donation after execution could not be possible because doctors “might refuse to carry out such an operation on ethical or legal grounds.” In other words, doctors will participate in an execution, but not in a lifesaving organ transplant from the one they’re executing. Yes, some physicians will take issue with organ donation from a death row inmate, just as some take issue with capital punishment in general. But more than a cursory look quickly reveals that doctors will participate in both. (See ‘From the Executed’ page at http://www.gavelife.org for a thorough discussion on physician participation.) Ronald Phillips is not an exception. Polls show that the majority of us on death row would donate if given the option. The insurmountable hurdle is not usually the health of the prisoner, physician participation, or even the lethal injection process. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), who in 2011 called consideration of my wish to donate after execution “reprehensible”, has even turned the corner and pointed to the real roadblock. In a November, 2013 statement posted on their website, they said, “Ultimately the correctional authority must decide whether to allow any inmate to be evaluated for donation, and a transplant center must make medical decisions whether to accept any person as a donor and allow a transplant to proceed.” If a donor is healthy and gives appropriate consent, the transplant centers will allow even death row donations. Therefore, the giant pothole preventing inmate donors is made by the weight of the prison decision-makers who just don’t want the hassle. While some prison systems have recently begun to see the value in launching guidelines for prisoner organ donations, all prison authorities continue to avoid death row organ donor requests for what are now outdated and invalidated reasons. (See http://www.gavelife.org for discussions on China, lethal injection, ethics & more.)

There are 123,000 innocent-but-hopeful recipients on the transplant waiting list in the U.S. — most of whom would gladly accept even a death row organ. 18 of those waiting for a healthy organ are condemned to die today. Eight of them could be saved with one willing donor who happens to be on death row. By denying willing, healthy, death row donations, prison wardens are executing more than just the condemned ones under their charge. They are guaranteeing the deaths of every person who would have been saved if only thay had the guts to make a few adjustments instead of making cowardly excuses. Denying our organs only serves to perpetuate a tragedy.

” I’d Like the Liver w/a Side of Pancreas, Plz “

By Christian Longo

This is not a southern fried blogpost, or a new episode of Andrew Zimmerman’s ‘Bizarre Foods’, where culinary “delights” are sampled to broaden the viewers palates to include all the other shouldn’t-be-palated animal parts. If it were, I definately would have headlined with something far more suspicious, like lutefisk. (I dare you to try it.) Rather, this is an order from the body shop of the future where those in need of organs to survive can essentially walk up & place an order for their replacement part as if ordering ham at the deli counter at their local grocery store. Okay, maybe not quite that simple, but surprisingly not far off from that either.

A new study was just published in this month’s edition of the British medical journal, The Lancet, detailing for the world how doctors have successfully lab-grown vaginal organs from harvested cells of the patients who needed them. This is no lewd sci-fi nerd’s joke. Vaginas are now made to order. The needed cells are drawn from the body of the future recipient, grown & multiplied in a lab for four weeks, and then layered onto a scaffolding molded into the shape of a vaginal organ. Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, further explains, “We then are able to place this structure in an incubator, an oven-like device with the same conditions as the human body, and then the structure is able to mature somewhat, at which point we are able to insert it into the patient.” The new part is attached, nerves & blood vessels embrace it, regrowing to a point of normal functionality for a vagina, with no ill-effects whatsoever. And since it was built using the patient’s own cells, there is no need for any wearisome, costly anti-rejection drugs. Amazing! What’s more incredible still, though, is that the surgeries profiled in the study were performed as early as 2005 — almost a decade ago! Made to order body parts are here! The image of the mouse with a human ear eerily (pun intended) growing on its back… that’s real! They’re now GROWING ears for wounded soldiers. In 2006, researchers disclosed how they were implanting lab-grown bladders into children with spina bifida. In 2008, a patient received a new windpipe that was a hybrid of a cadaver and her own cells. But by 2011, doctors proved that a fully functioning windpipe could be manufactured w/o the need of a cadaver at all, by replacing a cancer-saturated trachea w/ a freshly grown one. As the professor of regenerative surgery who carried out the procedure said, “He was condemned to die. We now plan to discharge him on Friday.”

Lab-grown small intestines for transplant are almost here. Biomedical engineers are using 3-D printers to squirt “ink” of living cells into all sorts to grow things like heart valves, tubes for blood vessels, contoured cartilage for joints, & patches of skin & muscles for living Band-Aids. Biologists have succeeded in generating mini-livers, or liver buds, from stem cells, recreating the regenerative process of a healthy liver. Soon patients w/ liver failure will be able to undergo stem cell therapy instead of having to wait in line for a donor part. Technicians have grown the first breathing lung — albeit the size of a quarter. Although grown for a lab rat, the advancement has proven that even more complex organs, like kidneys & hearts, are not out of science’s technological reach. Who would have thought that a job title of the future would be ‘Organ Designer’?

So then why am I fighting so hard for myself and other likeminded prisoners, as well as other effectively banned groups, to have the privilege of donating our healthy kidneys & other parts? That’s so yesterday. The technocratic imperative is: ‘What can be done must be done.’ It’s coming. The wave of the future will simply just grow healthier non-rejectable versions of all the needed organs. We’re not needed. Well, while unbelievable Star-Trekian advancements are becoming reality, the delivery date for the most badly needed parts, like a kidney, is, unfortunately, still a long ways off. The complexity of the kidney, for instance, is proving to be a long-winded challenge. As Shuvo Roy, a bioengineering professor at UC San Francisco, explains, “Not only does the kidney filter blood, but it also performs mutiple other functions, including balancing metabolites and making vitamin D.” Unlike bladders & cartilage, which contains one or two primary types of cells, kidneys contain 20 primary varieties to contend with. Because of the kidney’s complexity, the best guesstimates currently aim for the reveal of a functioning lab-grown kidney for somewhere around 2030, at which time it will only be beginning the necessary trials to ensure that the technology is safe to release to the masses. Walking up to the body shop to purchase an organ is likely, unfortunately, at least two more long decades away.

There are currently about 123,000 patiently waiting-to-be recipients on the transplant wait list. Nearly 100,000 of them are waiting for kidneys. 18 people will die while waiting in line today. Roughly 7,000 will die this year. The list of those in need will keep growing, and progressively more will die each year thereafter. So in the 20 years it’ll take before you can potentially request your very own lab-grown kidney, liver, or heart, over 140,000 people will die… needlessly.

There is a solution in the meantime: A meat counter of available healthy organs & tissue exists. Only this is the best kind of meat counter, one where you don’t have to pull a number and wait, where the “meat” is certified to be healthy grade A product, & one where the product is completely free. Prisoners, gay men & other unnecessarily banned groups are lining up as suppliers for these parts. There is no longer any reason for those in need to wait. There are currently about 123,000 patiently waiting-to-be recipients on the transplant wait list. Nearly 100,000 of them are waiting for kidneys. 18 people will die while waiting in line today. Roughly 7,000 will die this year. The list of those in need will keep growing, and progressively more will die each year thereafter. So in the 20 years it’ll take before you can potentially request your very own lab-grown kidney, liver, or heart, over 140,000 people will die… needlessly.

There is a solution in the meantime: A meat counter of available healthy organs & tissue exists. Only this is the best kind of meat counter, one where you don’t have to pull a number and wait, where the “meat” is certified to be healthy grade A product, & one where the product is completely free. Prisoners, gay men & other unnecessarily banned groups are lining up as suppliers for these parts. There is no longer any reason for those in need to wait.

We’ve just got to get somebody to unlock the door.

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Why Gave Needs You

I’m totally jealous of Uncle Sam. The guy looks like Colonel Sanders mean older brother who, instead of going the chicken route, decided to become a circus ringmaster. I mean, what other excuse could there be for the far-out red, white, and blue suit, accessorized with the goofy star-wrapped top-hat? But all the guy has to do is point and say, “I want YOU”, and people all over the U.S. are lining up, actually hoping to be picked to help. What’s most impressive though is that this guy is getting people to raise their hands to give their lives over to the U.S. government as war bait. They are literally volunteering to sacrifice their lives for his cause! How does he do it? Best marketing pitchman ever!

GAVE needs HIM! It’s just not as effective when I point. Besides, especially given that I’m pointing from death row, it’s probably the rudest gesture I can make. No, we definitely need a different poster boy than me, and I’d like to recruit Uncle Sam. Of course if Uncle Sam were our spokesperson, everyone would probably assume that he was in need of a kidney himself. It would be like the puppies on the ASPCA commercials wimpering with their ‘save-me-before-it’s-too-late’ faces, and then we’d need Sara McLachlan for the background music, and it would just be too sad. I don’t want to guilt people into helping, or make them too sad to look. I thought about doing a commercial where the doctor tells a leukemic child that a bone marrow match was found for him, showing the child’s beaming face at the realization that he might just get to grow up. But then the doctor noticed that the perfect match is a prisoner and cannot be allowed to donate, and he tells the child, “I’m sorry. We can’t allow it. But I’m sure another one-in-a-million match will come along any second now.” But again, very sad. Well, that and GAVE doesn’t exactly have the resources to put together such a production, or even secure a personification like Uncle Sam. GAVE is run on a shoestring, and not a brand new fresh-out-of-the-package one. We had to cut shoes down from the powerlines above the crosswalk to use their shoestrings. Our shoestring budget is in constant danger of breaking, with no shoestring to replace it when it happens.

You may have noticed GAVE ramp up its fundraising efforts lately. Fortunately for us, our mission doesn’t require a million dollar investment. Our needs are small, but they are needs nonetheless.

Take our online presence for instance: Ideally, we’d simply take advantage of one of those free websites you see advertised, establish an online home, update it when we can, and let people and decision-makers self-educate. Just let change happen, cheaply and organically. A flawed premise from the start. It turns out that when you have no access to the internet, as I don’t, even “free” is never actually free. Nor even cheap or simple.Just to communicate the information out takes hours of phone time & mailings, all of which run at a premium rate when done from prison. (I.e., A phone call is $5 for 30 minutes.) Once communicated, you’re at the mercy of others who are not on payroll. Kindhearted, well-intentioned others who I could never have begun this without, whom I’ll be eternally grateful and indebted to. But others who had no web design background or the ability to establish the needed online professionalism. After 4 years of scrimping & begging, enough was finally scraped up to fortify that shoestring to build a professional site with a professional (yet budget-conscious) web-designer. To keep that professionalism requires a monthly fee, as do these blogposts, social network postings, online research, email assistance and other communication, etc. And that’s the least of what GAVE does.

Much of our efforts are in education and outreach to expand this effort beyond those who happen upon our online presence. What you didn’t see last month were the nearly 200 letters and packages that went out to legislators across the country to encourage prisoner organ donation bill sponsorship. We have a similarly dedicated project every month, usually involving outreach efforts to the medical, transplant, and prison fields, all of which require ordinarily out-of-reach resources for someone on death row.

For the past year, we’ve been working on GAVE’s new book, ‘Lethal Rejection’, for use as our primary education tool concerning the issues of donation from all healthy, yet needlessly banned, groups. Such an undertaking from prison is enormous, requiring substantial help from others for research, typing, formatting, campaigning, not to mention phone calls, mail costs, book & other research material purchases, & a dozen other challenging needs. Have you ever tied a shoestring between two polls and try to balance on it with out falling or snapping it? It’s kind of like that, but with a frayed string. We have a few who have been absolute lifesavers in keeping GAVE going, through various facilitations, monthly support of our projects, mailings, research and more. A lot of weight has been put on a few shoulders. But the catch-22, as we’re starting to have a big impact in state laws and policies — potentially saving lives — things are getting MUCH heavier. The demands are becoming too great for the backs of even our strongest support. I’ll take as much piling on as can be poured on me. I exist for GAVE. But there is much that logistically I am incapable of doing on my own. I rely on the help. But my limited support is getting crushed under the weight of this, supporters who have other life missions and ambitions apart from mine. They need relief, which any reader of this can help provide.

If you believe that this is a worthwhile cause, now is the best time to show it. This is an important year for our efforts. The snowball is growing. Without you it may melt. Since we’ve finally secured the skilled service providers who will help keep us moving forward on a shoestring, taking some of the weight from our volunteers shoulders, we most need help fortifying that shoestring a bit. The most effective way that you can help us is through our current campaign to raise funds for ‘Lethal Rejection’. This will enable us not only to perfect our greatest tool, but it will allow us to get it into the hands of most of the decision-makers in this country who are in the best position to affect change. This will also allow us the ability to generate the resources needed to keep the snowball rolling, and at a time when the conditions are most ideal.

Most directly, without rudely pointing, we NEED YOU! Right now, after this very sentence, you can click on our freshly updated site & click onto our book campaign & contribute. A little will go a long ways, perhaps to the point of saving lives. We can do this without Uncle Sam, but we cannot do this without YOU.