Christian Longo wants to be an organ donor

Christian Longo »Play Video
Christian Longo

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Christian Longo, sentenced to death for killing his wife and three children on the Oregon coast, has become an advocate for organ donation.

Longo, 35, has launched a Web site to promote his twin ambitions: getting permission from state corrections officials to become an organ donor, and advocating for prisoners across the country to have the same choice. He calls the effort "Gifts of Anatomical Value from Everyone."

A Corrections Department spokeswoman, Jennifer Black, confirmed to the Statesman Journal newspaper this week that Longo has sought approval to become an organ donor, either while he's alive or after he's executed.

If Longo's bid to become an organ donor is granted, it could be a first for Oregon's 14,000-inmate prison system. In 1999, inmate Gary Haugen volunteered to donate half of his liver to save his dying sister. Prison officials allowed Haugen to undergo blood testing to determine if he was a good donor match. The testing, however, ruled him out as a potential donor.

"If someone needs a bone marrow transplant or their mother needs a kidney and there's a match, then there's no reason that can't go forward," Black said. "But it's not just a blanket 'yes.' All offenders can give part of their body away to somebody else. It has to be for the right reasons and the right person and all that."

Prison officials don't want inmates to think that they might be able to sell their body parts for cash, Black said.

Longo was sentenced in 2003 to death by lethal injection for killing his wife, MaryJane Longo, 34, and their children, Zachery, 4, Sadie, 3, and Madison, 2, and dumping their bodies into coastal waters around Christmas 2001.

Longo fled to Mexico after the murders and was briefly one of America's most wanted fugitives. The FBI caught him at a beach resort in Tulum. Longo had partied and snorkeled, and he was romantically involved with a German tourist.

While in Mexico, Longo posed as New York Times reporter Michael Finkel.

Finkel, in a twist, became obsessed with Longo's case, attended his trial and interviewed him many times, leading to a book called "True Story."

The book melded Longo's murder case with Finkel's personal story of disgrace; he was fired in 2002 because he concocted a character for a feature story.

In a new development, Finkel has written an article about Longo's life on death row and his quest to become an organ donor.

According to Finkel's account, published in Esquire, Longo became depressed after five years on death row and was ready to abandon his appeals. But Longo had a change of heart after Finkel wrote to him and suggested he look into becoming an organ donor.

"Longo was astounded," Finkel writes in the article. "When he read my letter, he told me, something inside of him clicked. A switch was thrown. He felt an enthusiasm he hadn't experienced in years. He felt inspired."

- The Statesman Journal originated this report.


Related link: