4 May 2017

Prisoner wants right to donate blood, organs and sperm

From Checkpoint, 5:19 pm on 4 May 2017

A convicted murderer has petitioned Parliament to be able to donate sperm and father a child from prison, but the Corrections Minister says she believes prisoners lose that right.

Karl Nuku, who is serving life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 18 years, petitioned the government for prisoners to be able to donate blood, organs and sperm.

There are practical impediments, including that prison populations contain a greater-than-usual percentage of intravenous drug users and hepatitis sufferers.  

NZ Blood Service chief executive Sam Cliffe said there used to be blood drives at prisons, but those problems meant it was not a cost-effective.  

Corrections issued a statement saying there were no legal restrictions preventing prisoners from donating blood, organs or sperm, but nor would they support it.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard presented Nuku's petition in Parliament today, and said there were some merits.

"Most people can see the value if they have a sick child of getting blood from a prisoner, they wouldn't really mind," he said.

"The same with organs, if someone needs a kidney transplant then there's value in that.

He said there were "bits" of the petition that were worth looking at, particularly in looking for rare blood types and organ donation, but he was not comfortable with sperm donation.

"I'm not quite sure what the external value people would be in sperm donation, but that's a matter for the committee, it's not for me [to say]."

Corrections Minister Louise Upston said she did not think prisoners should be able to father a child from prison.

"I don't think the average New Zealander would see that while someone is in prison as a consequence of their actions that they should have the rights to parent while they're behind the wire," she said.

Ms Upston said Corrections considered donation applications on a case-by-case basis.

She said the petition had roughly zero chance of success in Parliament, and that an unscientific poll conducted by NZME had received a large number of votes that were overwhelmingly against.