Two-year-old A.J. Burgess with his parents, Carmellia Burgess and Anthony Dickerson. 
Photo: Family photo
Photo: Family photo

Toddler heads home from hospital to wait for kidney transplant

A 2-year-old Gwinnett County boy in desperate need of a transplant surgery is heading home from the hospital after more than a week, his family said.

After battling a potentially deadly infection, contracting pneumonia, having surgery to implant a new port for his dialysis treatments and receiving blood transfusions, AJ Burgess was released from the hospital Wednesday, attorney Mawuli Davis said in a news release.

“He will be recovering at home with his family in preparation for a transplant surgery to receive his father's kidney,” Davis said.

AJ has been battling for his life since he was born without kidneys, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

His father, Anthony Dickerson, is a perfect match and a willing donor, but the transplant team at Emory Hospital canceled a scheduled surgery after Dickerson was arrested on a probation violation. 

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

After developing an infection, AJ was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Atlanta at Egleston on Oct. 29 and needed surgery and other treatment, mother Carmellia Burgess said through the family’s law firm.

But while AJ fought to heal, officials with Emory resumed conversations about whether Dickerson would be permitted to donate a kidney. 

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

Essentially, the transplant team worried Dickerson might not follow through with post-operative care and put his own health at risk, Emory previously said in a statement to the AJC.

“Removal of a kidney is major surgery,” said the statement. “Recovery for a living donor entails consistent follow-up visits with the transplant team for approximately two years following surgery to ensure proper function of the remaining kidney and to avoid future health problems.”

Dickerson now has a mentor from the Georgia Transplant Foundation to see him through the process.

Davis said the family remains encouraged by AJ’s strength and resilience, and by the support from local activists and leaders: “The family thanks the community for the overwhelming love and support and ask for their continued prayers through this difficult ordeal." 

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