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State Denies Inmate’s Offer to Donate Kidney to Detective

March 14, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ A death row inmate’s request to donate a kidney to a police detective who helped put him in prison was denied Wednesday by state officials who said they fear a hoax.

Larry Lonchar, who stalled his execution last year by demanding that his organs be donated, is offering a kidney to a retired chief of detectives whose officers tied him to a triple murder that put him on death row.

Lonchar is too dangerous to be taken to a hospital for transplant surgery and might be toying with 60-year-old Melvin Ferguson, Corrections Commissioner Wayne Garner said.

``This trickster has a bad history of changing his mind about serious, life and death events. His wanting to donate his kidney smells of another hoax,″ Garner said. ``How horrible it would be for a dying man to find that his supposed donor changed his mind at the last moment.″

Ferguson, a married father of three, said he was disappointed, not angry, at the state’s decision. ``He’s not the first man on death row to give a kidney; this is not a precedent-setting case. I don’t understand it.″

``I’ve got three grandsons,″ Ferguson said. ``All three are going to be baseball players and I’m a baseball coach. ... I can’t go out and help them. A transplant would give me a new attitude and strength.″

Last June, just hours before he was to die in the electric chair, Lonchar filed an appeal, saying he wanted to be executed in a way that would preserve his organs for donation. Electrocution makes organs unsuitable for transplant.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on Lonchar’s appeal within a month, said his attorney, John Matteson.

Ferguson, whose kidneys were damaged during heart surgery, said he read about the appeal and decided to contact Lonchar’s attorney.

``I knew we had the same blood type through the police investigation″ of the triple murders, Ferguson said.

Matteson said he will ask the courts to allow Lonchar to be tested to see if he is a suitable donor for Ferguson.

``Here’s someone who’s dedicated 30 years to law enforcement and they’re telling this loyal employee to go stick it,″ Matteson said. ``This is trashy.″

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