Image: Charles Cullen
Patti Sapone  /  Pool via AP file
Charles Cullen, 45, a former nurse who pleaded guilty to killing 24 patients, admitted to killing five more people by injecting them with lethal doses of drugs.
updated 3/19/2006 11:59:07 AM ET 2006-03-19T16:59:07

A judge has agreed to allow New Jersey’s worst serial killer to donate a kidney, but the donor and his doctors have to meet conditions.

Superior Court Judge Paul W. Armstrong did not say when Charles Cullen might undergo the operation to remove one of his kidneys to be transplanted into the relative of a friend.

Cullen has admitted killing 29 patients with drug overdoses at nursing homes and hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in one of the worst murder sprees ever discovered in the U.S. health care system. He has been sentenced to 18 life terms.

The judge’s order, signed Thursday, stipulates that all operation costs must be paid by the recipient’s insurer.

Also, the surgery to remove Cullen’s kidney must happen in New Jersey at a hospital certified by the state Department of Corrections, and the doctors who perform the operation must be certified by the state Board of Medical Examiners.

Cullen, 46, had tried for four months to reach an agreement with prosecutors in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to win permission for the donation.

His lawyer, Johnnie Mask, told The New York Times that the requirements made him “suspicious that someone in the Department of Corrections or at the Attorney General’s Office does not want this to happen,” the Times reported Saturday.

New Jersey Attorney General’s Office spokesman John Hagerty said the requirements reflect the fact that they are for “a serial killer who is not free to travel willy-nilly.”

Cullen escaped the death penalty after agreeing to help prosecutors identify his victims. He pleaded guilty to seven counts of murder and three of attempted murder in Pennsylvania, and in New Jersey to 22 murder and three attempted-murder counts.

He claimed to have killed 40 patients over a 16-year nursing career, and has said he killed out of mercy. Not all of his victims, however, were old or very sick.

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