New Jersey Killer Nurse Donates Kidney

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A former nurse who admitted killing 29 patients in two states donated one of his kidneys to the brother of an ex-girlfriend, the nurse's lawyer said Wednesday.

Charles Cullen had threatened to skip his sentencing hearing unless he was allowed to be a donor. A judge gave permission in February for the serial killer to be removed from prison for the operation.

The recipient was Ernie Peckham of Rocky Point, N.Y., said Johnnie Mask, Cullen's public defender.

"They have not had a chance to speak" since their operations Aug. 20, Mask said.

Cullen was returned to New Jersey State Prison the day after the surgery and Peckham was back at his home on Long Island a few days later.

A woman who answered a phone listing for Peckham on Wednesday hung up without comment.

Peckham, 37, a metalworker, is a married father of four who is a Cub Scout leader and Army reservist, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday. His sister, Catherine Westerfer, 38, of Bethlehem, Pa., once lived with Cullen, the newspaper said.

Peckham had told his local paper, The Village Beacon Record, that his kidneys began failing after a cut finger led to a strep infection.

Cullen pleaded guilty to 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 was sentenced to 18 life terms.

He claimed to have killed 40 patients over a 16-year nursing career, and has said he killed out of mercy.