Family says 2-year-old will get dad’s kidney before year’s end

6:14 p.m Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 Atlanta News
ELLEN ELDRIDGE / ELLEN.ELDRIDGE@AJC.COM
Anthony Dickerson (left), Carmellia Burgess

The family of a 2-year-old Gwinnett County boy said Monday they expect Emory Hospital to perform a lifesaving kidney transplant surgery before the end of the year.

AJ Burgess was born without kidneys, his mother, Carmellia Burgess, said in a fundraising campaign.

The boy was denied his father’s kidney, which is a perfect match, when Anthony Dickerson was arrested on a probation violation Sept. 28. Dickerson had a surgery scheduled Oct. 3, but, despite law enforcement officials working to release him from jail in time, the surgical team canceled the surgery, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

IN DEPTH: Can a man’s criminal past prevent him from donating kidney to son?

Family photo
Two-year-old AJ Burgess with his parents, Carmellia Burgess and Anthony Dickerson. 

Burgess and Dickerson met with their lawyers and Emory officials as planned Monday.

“We had another open and frank conversation with Emory officials who will be involved with the transplant team,” attorney Mawuli Davis said. 

The Emory Healthcare transplant team released a statement, saying in part, “The ongoing conversations are moving the process forward and we will continue to work towards the shared goal of a successful transplant for AJ.”

Burgess added that the surgical team plans to use Dickerson’s kidney for AJ.

The 2-year-old, who will turn 3 in January, received a blood transfusion earlier Monday, Burgess said.

MORE: Dialysis surgery next step for boy denied kidney transplant

Davis said they hope the transplant will take place before the end of December.

“We’re really hopeful it will be as soon as possible,” Davis said. “An early Christmas gift, if possible.”

In the next several weeks, Dickerson will complete the necessary follow-up appointments required for him to be cleared to donate one of his kidneys, Davis said. 

They don’t know when AJ will be healthy enough to leave the hospital.

He has been at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston since Oct. 29, when he was rushed to the emergency room with an abdominal infection.

MORE: Emory agrees helping 2-year-old with kidney transplant is paramount

After protests and a march by students of Emory’s Candler School of Theology and members of the NAACP outside the hospital Thursday, hospital officials agreed to resume conversations with the family. Burgess said at a news conference Friday they hadn’t heard from the surgical team at all since Oct. 4. She and Dickerson were thankful for the support.

However, AJ needed another surgery Friday. That surgery to allow AJ to access hemodialysis went well and he continues to heal, his mother said.

“(The doctors) want to get him back on his feeding regimen so we have to work our way up gradually,” Burgess said Monday during a news conference. “AJ is AJ; he’s a fighter.”

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