Convicted rapist next in line for organ transplant


Convicted rapist Kenneth Pike, of New York, was expected to undergo a life-saving heart transplant that could have cost as much as US$800,000, a price that would have been funded by taxpayers. The expense angered several crime victim advocates and community members, who said they could not understand how the justice system can provide expensive services for convicted felons arguably at innocent patients’ expense. Pike ultimately turned down the transplant, but some significant bioethical questions remain. Should taxpayers bear the financial brunt of medical treatment for convicted criminals, especially if those taxpayers are struggling to pay their own medical bills?

“From a moral standpoint I think everyone should have a chance at life,” said Carol Speach, a media sales professional in Auburn, N.Y. “But realistically, I think no he shouldn't. I know innocent people with health problems who have medical bills coming out of their ears and can't afford it.”   

Bioethicist Art Caplan, of the University of Pennsylvania, said transplant centres have the right to turn away patients, but doctors are required to care for every patient they see. While transplant lists do not list a patient’s criminal histories, or whether the recipient is currently in prison, Caplan said there have not been many cases of prisoners approved for organ donations. “In general, the ethics of medicine is not to sort out sinners and saints,” he said.ABC News, Apr 26

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