Charles “The Angel of Death” Cullen — the killer nurse of Somerset Medical in New Jersey and who has pleaded guilty to murdering 29 patients under his care at five New Jersey Hospitals and two in Pennsylvania — has now decided he wants to donate one of his kidneys to a dying man in New York. Would you accept a body part from a confessed murderer in order to save your life?

Would you worry about the goodness in you rejecting the evil in the donated organ? What would you say to the families of the victims your donor murdered? The hopeful recipient of Cullen’s kidney — there is an ongoing legal and medical debate if Cullen would donate the kidney under the laws of the state of New Jersey or New York — is a relative of the woman Cullen was dating at the end of his killing spree in December 2003. That woman gave birth to the Angel of Death’s child soon after his arrest for murder.

28 Comments

  1. I’d take the kidney without any problems, as long as it was deemed safe to accept and the prisoner had consented to the donation.
    I wouldn’t take a kidney “harvested” from an executed prisoner who hasn’t consented to the donation as has been reported in China. Doing that could encourage executions for body parts.
    The kidney doesn’t have a soul, so whatever evil lurked in the mind of Cullen wouldn’t be passed along. If we were talking about a brain transplant, if it was possible, then I might have some reservations.
    In some ways, this is a way that Cullen can redeem himself. He took life. Now he has the ability to help save a life that might otherwise end.
    It’s a happy ending to a sad story.

  2. I think I’d probably take it considering I’d figure my life was worth it. It doesn’t make me evil to have his body part and it doesn’t include me in the horrible things he did. It would seem rather stupid to not take the kidney and die just because of that guy…that would make me another casualty in a way.

  3. I agree with Chris and Robin, I’d take it. And I would pose the same question to the families of the victims. Not to be a smart-ass, of course, but if their loved one was not dead, but this killer had the only thing that could save the life of their family member, how could they not take it?

  4. Hi Chris —
    You don’t think evil is created on a genetic plane?
    Does the soul live in the body separate from the cellular level?
    You don’t believe a murderous intent finds its spark of life in DNA chains?
    Wasn’t there an instance of a murderer’s hand being transplanted on a young man and when the young man awoke from surgery his “new hand” strangled him to death? Or did I see that on an episode of The Twilight Zone?
    :mrgreen:
    Okay, I couldn’t resist that one… now back to Cullen…
    What would you say to the families of the victims your donor murdered? “I’m sorry he killed your husband, but has decided to give me life and I’m grabbing his offer.”
    Aren’t you playing directly into Cullen’s damaged mind where he sees himself as a Godlike figure who determines who lives and dies?
    His whole defense to his multiple murders is that he was only performing euthanasia on sick people who would never get healthy again and was not “murdering” anyone.
    By accepting his kidney aren’t you making yourself an active participant in perpetuating his mental illness for your personal benefit?

  5. Robin — I am surprised by your answer! Your purity must run pretty deep!
    Carla — I think it’s a hard call, Carla. I don’t know if I could accept the offer. There were terrible human experiments done by the Nazis during WWII — and the medical community today is still in conflict if they should examine and use the results of the horror of those experiments. There are some in the medical community who believe no good could ever come from embracing those experiments on a moral scientific level even though healthy people today might be saved by those who suffered and died.
    Carla — Yeah! The Gravatars are now 80×80! Re-upload yours at Gravatars.com if it doesn’t look right at this resolution. These Gravatars are so good but I had a hard time seeing them at such a tiny resolution.
    Robin — I think there’s a punch line in there somewhere but I’m not touching it!
    :mrgreen:

  6. Interesting questions.
    I don’t think would be playing into Cullen’s delusions by taking his organ. He might think that he was playing god, but it would have no effect on me, even though I would be benefiting from it. His intention was to euthanize patients, not save lives. I might be thwarting his goals by living in spite of the disease that caused me to need a transplant.
    I think evil is created by environment. The genes might provide the means for good or evil, depending on how the the person is socialized. Genes could work for good in an evil person if he or she was unable to carry out diabolical plans because of a genetic disability. Is someone bad because they think evil thoughts, but have no way to carry them out? Can’t a bad person reform and become a good person?
    If evil was traceable to a genetic level, then there would be no need to have courts. We could have a scientific committee test people and lock up those whose genes showed a propensity toward criminal activity. Maybe send them to a penal colony somewhere on an island. It would act as specific deterrence against those people acting out against the larger society.
    I’d tell the families of the victims that I was making the best out of a bad situation. If a victim’s family member needed the organ, I might pass taking it so that the family member could take it.

  7. Hi Chris!
    You create some excellent and exquisite thoughts here. It’s interesting you can disassociate evil deeds from the need for the organ.
    The problem that still sticks with me is that Cullen is obviously mentally ill — no one would play executioner in the name of God unless there was something seriously wrong with the mind and there is something unseemly about accepting a gift from someone not capable of making that decision no matter what a court psychologist might testify during a trial.
    Do we execute the insane? No.
    Do we accept organ donations from the insane? It appears the answer is “yes” when it comes to the states of New York and New Jersey.
    I find that a break in argumentative reality — we do not kill the insane because they are not in charge of their thoughts but we will take their organs if they donate them even though they are still not in charge of their thoughts — and that is unsettling and eerie in a foreboding way where we create the rules of society on a whim as we go along instead of rigidly establishing them in thought and dialogue.
    Your take on evil only being environmental is interesting. I’m working on a piece now called “American Eugenics” that will directly address the role of genes and DNA detonation in the mist of our near future and, in many unforgiving ways, DNA screening will play accuser, judge and executioner sooner than we wish.

  8. Hi Chris!
    You create some excellent and exquisite thoughts here. It’s interesting you can disassociate evil deeds from the need for the organ.
    The problem that still sticks with me is that Cullen is obviously mentally ill — no one would play executioner in the name of God unless there was something seriously wrong with the mind and there is something unseemly about accepting a gift from someone not capable of making that decision no matter what a court psychologist might testify during a trial.
    Do we execute the insane? No.
    Do we accept organ donations from the insane? It appears the answer is “yes” when it comes to the states of New York and New Jersey.
    I find that a break in argumentative reality — we do not kill the insane because they are not in charge of their thoughts but we will take their organs if they donate them even though they are still not in charge of their thoughts — and that is unsettling and eerie in a foreboding way where we create the rules of society on a whim as we go along instead of rigidly establishing them in thought and dialogue.
    Your take on evil only being environmental is interesting. I’m working on a piece now called “American Eugenics” that will directly address the role of genes and DNA detonation in the mist of our near future and, in many unforgiving ways, DNA screening will play accuser, judge and executioner sooner than we wish.

  9. I would take the kidney as well. Maybe this is Cullen’s way of ‘making good’, it is his mind that is diseased, not the kidney. Maybe this donation is like his apology card to the world. It’s all he can give after his life is taken for his crimes.
    For more on Charles Cullen – and other ‘angels of death’ you check out the stories at
    http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/angels/male_nurses/index.html
    (one of the most interesting sites on the Internet in my humble opinion.)