The organ transplant of a 2-year-old boy who was born without a kidney will likely be stalled for months.
The reason? His father’s latest arrest.
Anthony Dickerson, 26, is no stranger to the criminal justice system. He has been in and out of jail on misdemeanor theft charges and a first-degree forgery charge since 2011, according to Gwinnett County jail records.
Just this month, he was released on a $2,600 bond on charges of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of attempted felonies.
But Dickerson promised that his son would be the one thing he did right in his life, the child’s mother, Carmellia Burgess, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
So when he found out he was a match to donate his kidney to Anthony Jr., he jumped at the chance to help.
The family was “hysterical” when they found out the day of the planned surgery Oct. 3 that Emory University Hospital had changed the plan.
“They’re making this about dad,” Burgess said. “It’s not about dad. It’s about our son.”
In a letter The AJC obtained from Burgess, a hospital official said the surgery would be pushed back until Dickerson could provide evidence he has complied with his parole officer for three months.
“We will re-evaluate Mr. Dickerson in January 2018 after receipt of this completed documentation,” the hospital representative said in the letter.
Emory officials refused to answer The AJC’s questions about the decision or its policies, and Gwinnett law enforcement agencies have not responded to requests for comment.
Janet Christenbury, an Emory spokeswoman, said in a statement the hospital is committed to the highest quality of care for its patients.
“Guidelines for organ transplantation are designed to maximize the chance of success for organ recipients and minimize risk for living donors,” Christenbury said. “Because of privacy regulations and respect for patient confidentiality, we cannot share specific information about our patients.”
Burgess said news of the hospital’s decision caught her by surprise because Emory had earlier been supportive of the dad being the donor.
The hospital even requested Dickerson’s temporary release from jail, according to a letter from Emory’s Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program to the Gwinnett County jail where Dickerson was being held.
“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,” an Emory official said in the letter dated Sept. 28.
Even though jail records show Dickerson was released Oct. 2, the child’s surgery has not been rescheduled for this year.
Burgess created a web petition to urge the hospital to allow the surgery sooner. It has garnered more than 18,400 signatures, but Burgess said she doubts the petition will make a difference.
A GoFundMe page also was set up with a $1,000 goal.
“I’m just taking it day by day,” she said. “That’s all we can do.”
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