Hospital reverses decision after toddler denied kidney transplant because father violated parole

(WSVN) - A toddler in desperate need of a kidney transplant was denied the surgery because his father, who surgeons say is a “110 percent” match, violated his parole.

Emory University hospital originally said it wouldn’t do the operation until the father has proven that he can stay out of jail.

But after a public outcry, the hospital has reportedly changed its tune.

Two-year-old AJ Burgess was born prematurely without a functioning kidney, and spent the first 10 months of his life in the neonatal ICU.

His dad, Anthony Dickerson, proved to be a perfect match for his son; however, he had been previously jailed on weapon charges. On Oct. 3, Dickerson was set to take part in the donation process when he was arrested again for possessing a weapon and violating his parole.

After the incident, Burgess’ mother Carmella says Dickerson was told by a healthcare official that he would “need to be on good behavior for three to four months” before being allowed to donate his kidney to his son.

Dickerson was told his status would re-evaluated in Jan. 2018, but Burgess’ mother says that could be too late.

The young boy’s body is starting to fail, doctors said.

Since the surgery was denied, the toddler has developed pneumonia and an infection while waiting for a transplant and has been hospitalized.

Emory Healthcare officials and doctors met with the little boy’s parents Thursday, saying they had an “open and honest discussion” about AJ’s needed treatment.

The family now tells Fox 5 they are confident the surgery will happen, but not for at least another month as doctors must wait for AJ’s pneumonia and infection to clear up.

The hospital released a statement Thursday night following the meeting with the family:

“Emory Healthcare officials and physicians met with parents Carmellia Burgess, Anthony Dickerson, their attorneys and community supporters. The intent of the meeting was to open lines of communication among all parties involved and come together over how best to help AJ.

“We have had an open and honest discussion in focusing on our shared goal of ensuring the health and well-being of AJ and his father. In reviewing our communication with the family, Emory Healthcare wants to acknowledge and apologize for a breakdown in communication on our part. In addition, the Emory Healthcare team and the family agreed to meet again on Monday, Nov. 6, to continue the process. In our meeting this afternoon, we were able to review the situation and agree that moving forward on behalf of AJ is everyone’s most important goal.”

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