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

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

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Emory Hospital officials met with community leaders and protesters upset about the case of a 2-year-old boy who was denied a kidney transplant surgery, officials said.

After meeting with the parents of AJ Burgess, their attorneys and community supporters Thursday, Emory officials agreed the boy’s health is paramount.

Burgess was born without kidneys, and despite having a perfect match and a willing donor in his father, the surgical team has not agreed to go forward with the transplant.

His father, Anthony Dickerson, was tested while in jail.

Emory previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution it is following nationally accepted guidelines for approving donors. The surgery set for early October was canceled after Dickerson, who has a lengthy history of theft and forgery charges, violated his probation and was arrested Sept. 28.

He’s since been released from jail, but hospital officials want to see three months of good behavior before they reconsider the surgery.

The meeting took place after students from Candler School of Theology along with members of the NAACP marched outside the hospital Thursday afternoon to let the administration know they want baby AJ to get the surgery he needs, Channel 2 Action News reported.

“We want them to know that there are some people associated with Emory that won't stand for injustice,” student Richard Williams said. “Whatever the father has done ... this 2-year-old hasn't done anything and this 2-year-old deserves to live.”

Former Atlanta City Councilman Derrick Boazman joined those marching because he said he wanted answers from the hospital about their protocol.

"My conscious will not let me rest as I sit here and watch this baby dying and suffering for no other reason than bureaucratic red tape and right-out meanness,” Boazman said in a news release before the march. “Emory owes us an explanation."

Emory Healthcare acknowledged and apologized for a breakdown in communication on its part, CEO Jonathan S. Lewin said in a statement.

“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,” Lewin said. “In our meeting this afternoon, we were able to review the situation and agree that moving forward on behalf of A.J. is everyone’s most important goal.”

A vigil was held Sunday after the boy was rushed to an emergency room at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston with an infection. He remains in critical but stable condition.
The Emory Healthcare team and the family agreed to meet again on Monday to continue the process.

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