A 2-year-old boy, who was born without a kidney, will have to wait longer for a life-saving organ transplant, and according to his family, it's all because of his father's criminal record.
The boy's father, 26-year-old Anthony Dickerson, has been in and out of jail since 2011 on theft and forgery charges, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But regardless of his run-ins with the law, Dickerson was the only perfect match the family could find for Anthony Jr. to have a shot at a working kidney. He was elated to have the chance to help his son, and the transplant had been scheduled for Oct. 3.
Dickerson was arrested for violating the terms of his probation last month, but the hospital seemed willing to set aside his mistakes, that is, at first. The hospital even sent a letter to Gwinnett County Jail asking for its cooperation.
"Mr. Dickerson is currently in custody for a parole violation. If Mr. Dickerson could be escorted to Emory for blood work and a pre-operative appointment tomorrow, September 29, we will be able to continue with the scheduled surgery," the letter said.
So, the family was devastated to learn after Dickerson was released from custody — on the day of the scheduled transplant — that the hospital had decided to delay the transplant for Anthony Jr. until Dickerson complied with the terms of his parole.
"The Living Donor Transplant Team at Emory has asked Mr. Dickerson for evidence of compliance from his parole officer for the next three months. We will re-evaluate Mr. Dickerson in January 2018 after receipt of his completed documentation," the more recent letter says.
The family was devastated to learn Anthony Jr., who suffered a stroke just last month and requires round-the-clock care, is seemingly being punished for his father's mistakes.
"What do [sic] he got to do with the mistakes I made? Nothing," Dickerson said.
"He's only 2. He don't [sic] deserve this. We've been waiting so long for this," Anthony Jr.'s mother, Carmellia, said. "They're making this about Dad. It's about our 2-year-old son."
What does the hospital say?
“Guidelines for organ transplantation are designed to maximize the chance of success for organ recipients and minimize risk for living donors,” Emory Hospital spokeswoman Janet Christenbury said. “Because of privacy regulations and respect for patient confidentiality, we cannot share specific information about our patients.”
There was no further explanation of why or how an arrest would affect an organ transplant.
Where does this leave Anthony Jr.?
The family has the option of getting on the kidney transplant wait list to find another match, but they aren't hopeful a match would happen any time soon. And although Carmellia started an online petition asking Emory to reverse its decision, she doesn't believe it will make a difference.
“I’m just taking it day by day,” she said. “That’s all we can do.”