Atlanta hospital delays toddler's kidney transplant because donor father violated parole

Two-year-old A.J. Burgess was scheduled to receive his father's left kidney in a life-saving transplant at Atlanta-based Emory University Hospital Oct. 3. The procedure did not occur. Although the hospital deemed A.J.'s father a match, his recent parole violation brought the operation to a halt. 

Anthony Dickerson, 26, has been in and out of the criminal justice system since 2011, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. He was arrested in September for violating his parole.

Mr. Dickerson tested as a 100 percent match to donate his left kidney to his son A.J., who was born with only one. While he was in Gwinnett County Jail last month, Emory University Hospital requested Mr. Dickerson's temporary release and escorts so he could complete preoperative appointments and blood work. Jail records show Mr. Dickerson was released Oct. 2, in time for the scheduled Oct. 3 operation.

The day of the scheduled procedure, however, Emory University Hospital notified A.J.'s family the operation was postponed until Mr. Dickerson could provide evidence he complied with his parole officer for three months. The academic medical center told the family it would reevaluate Mr. Dickerson in January 2018.

Carmellia Burgess, A.J.'s mother, said the notification left the family "hysterical," according to AJC. She also expressed surprise at the postponement since the hospital's Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program worked with the jail to ensure Mr. Dickerson completed the necessary appointments.

"They're making this about dad," Ms. Burgess told AJC. "It's not about dad. It's about our son."

"Emory Healthcare is committed to the highest quality of care for its patients," the hospital wrote in a statement to Becker's Hospital Review. "Guidelines for organ transplantation are designed to maximize the chance of success for organ recipients and minimize risk for living donors. Transplant decisions regarding donors are made based on many medical, social and psychological factors. Because of privacy regulations and respect for patient confidentiality, we cannot share specific information about our patients."

Ms. Burgess has created a petition page to urge the hospital to allow A.J.'s operation before January. She also has a GoFundMe page for her son. 

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