Convicted Auburn rapist turns down heart transplant

The sister of a New York state prison inmate serving time for raping a 12-year-old female relative in 1996 says her brother has turned down a heart transplant.

Kenneth Pike was flown from Coxsackie Prison in the Hudson Valley to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester last week for a transplant revaluation. The Department of Corrections confirmed Monday that Pike was being evaluated.

But later Monday, Pike's sister, Sharon Cardinal of Auburn, told CNYcentral that her brother had changed his mind about the transplant after news reports sparked a debate over inmates receiving organ transplants at taxpayers' expense.

The 55-year-old Pike is serving an 18- to 40-year sentence for rape. Another relative says he recently underwent a triple bypass and would likely die without a transplant.

Original story:

A convicted rapist is having a change of heart over the possibility of getting a heart transplant while serving time in the New York State prison system. The Auburn family of Kenneth Pike said tonight the controversy over his evaluation for being a candidate for the transplant has led him to reconsider.

The heated debate began when Pike was flown to a Rochester Hospital after having heart problems in Coxsacie Correctional Facility, where he's been locked up for 16 years. He was being evaluated for a new heart, along with more than 40 other people who are on the waiting list.

"He's human, he should be treated like everyone else." said Pike's sister Sharon Cardinal.

Pike is serving 18 to 40 years for raping a 13 year old relative. He is eligible for parole in two years. The heart-transplant would cost upwards of $800,000, and taxpayers would have to pick up the tab. A bill some say they aren't willing to pay for. "He may need it, but I don't think we should have to pay for it," said William Lukins.

"As long as he's in the state's custody, the state is responsible for his medical. He deserves to be treated as a human just like everyone else," said Richard Hay who thinks he should be able to get the transplant.

Finger Lakes area State Senator Michael Nozzolio has called for hearings into the policies that decide whether a prisoner is entitled to extensive and unusual medical care. Nozzolio does not want law-abiding citizens waiting for transplants to be denied because an inmate was also in need.

Link to other coverage about Nozzolio's proposed hearing. It's expected to be held in Albany within the next month.