At Issue: When an organ donor is a convicted criminal

Little A.J. Burgess desperately needs a kidney transplant. But the potential donor, his father, is a convicted criminal in trouble with the law again, and Emory University Hospital has called off the operation to remove the father’s kidney.

Emory told the two-year-old’s parents, Carmellia Burgess and Anthony Dickerson, that it would not perform the surgery originally set for Oct. 3 unless it sees three months of good behavior after Dickerson’s Sept. 28 arrest for violation of probation.

“My son has a father who is ready and willing to give him a kidney so Baby A.J. doesn’t have to endure any deadly infections ,” Burgess wrote on a GoFundMe page, “but he’s being denied that because of a recent arrest.”

Essentially, Emory officials are not convinced Dickerson, who has a history of theft and forgery charges, is responsible enough to ensure his healthy recovery. The hospital says it’s simply following nationally accepted guidelines. Still, it’s come in for criticism.

“In the face of a good match and a desperate need, there should be no delay,” said Arthur Caplan, head of medical ethics at New York University’s School of Medicine. “I see no reason why you would jeopardize a child’s life for some good behavior test.”

Emory spokeswoman Janet Christenbury said in a statement that 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,” she said.

A.J., born without kidneys, endures five bladder treatments and 10 hours of dialysis a day. His family is seeking another medical center to do the father’s surgery.

Is Emory in the right? Tell us what you think. Send comments by email to:


Voter turnout in Fayette’s “off-year” elections has been historically low, and this Election Day was no exception. The municipalities of Fayetteville, Peachtree City and Tyrone had council races, but the county as a whole had just one question regarding continuation of the one-cent Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST). The municipal elections had only a 19.7 percent turnout (8,035 of 40,733 registered voters), and the ESPLOST (which passed) drew only 14.3 percent (11,152 of 77,809 registered voters). Some Fayette voters had to cast ballots at two locations for county versus city issues. A runoff election for Peachtree City mayor and the Post 3 council seat will be held Dec. 5.

With such big decisions being determined by a small percentage of citizens, we asked Fayette County residents what might improve voter turnout.

Here are some of their replies:

With the mess our government officials have made of things in recent years, I've become very cynical about the ability of my vote to make any real difference. I still research my choices and vote, but I am generally not at all pleased with the outcome even if my candidate or cause wins the election. I think we need better candidates not necessarily aligned with the traditional parties. If we had independent candidates, I think I would choose them to see if they might be better problem solvers. - Nancy Ricciardi

Not making some of us go to TWO different polling places would be a great start. I made sure I got TWO stickers. The second place didn't want to give me one. - Dan Vines

I never understood having to actively improve voter turnout. Advertise when the voting is to take place and if people are too apathetic to vote, then their opinion does not matter anyway. – Scott Thomas

Three weeks of early voting is too much. [We] only need one day to vote like before. Either you know the Election Day and vote or you don't care enough about the elections to vote. - Grace Caldwell

I decided to count all of the signs en route to the polling location and vote for the one with the fewest yard signs. I like an underdog story. – Jonathan Wayne

– Jonathan Wayne

Jill Howard Church for the AJC