By ALYSSA NEWCOMB
A convicted child killer was granted a temporary stay of execution today by Ohio's governor so medical experts can explore the feasibility of allowing the inmate to donate his organs.
Gov. John Kasich announced his decision today, less than 24 hours before Ronald Phillips, 40, was scheduled to die by lethal injection.
"I realize this is a bit of uncharted territory for Ohio, but if another life can be saved by his willingness to donate his organs and tissues then we should allow for that to happen," Kasich said in a statement.
Phillips is on death row for the 1993 rape and murder of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter.
If he is found to be a viable kidney donor for his mother, who is on dialysis, or others awaiting transplants, then the procedures would be performed and Phillips would then be returned to death row, Kasich said.
A new execution date has been scheduled for July 2, 2014.
When reached by ABCNews.com, Phillips' attorney, Tim Sweeney, declined to comment since he said he had not yet spoken with his client about the postponement.
Phillips' request to donate his organs to his ailing mother and sister was made on Monday in a letter sent by his attorneys to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
"Ron is making this generous request without any conditions or expectations," his attorneys wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by ABCNews.com.
"If he had his choice, he would like that one or both of his kidneys, if a match, go to his mother who is suffering from kidney disease and on dialysis, and for his heart to go to his sister, who has a heart condition," the letter states.
Phillips' request was initially denied by prison officials on Tuesday, who said it was "made at a very late hour."