Dying Teen Denied Heart Transplant Due to Low Grades, Legal Troubles
15-year-old Anthony Stokes has less than 6 months to live according to doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where the teenager has been hospitalized since July 14. But despite the severity of this enlarged heart, which doctors say can only be treated by way of a transplant, he’s been denied the chance to get one.
“They’ve given him a death sentence,” Christine Young Brown, president of the Newton Rockdale County Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), told news station WSBTV.
Brown, along with other civil rights activists are beginning to take up Anthony’s cause because of the reason Stokes’ family says the teenager is being denied access to the transplant list — his performance in school and previous run-ins with the law.
“They said they don’t have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups,” Melencia Hamilton, Anthony’s mother, told WSBTV News. In their words, Anthony has been labeled as “non-compliant.”
Keepers of the nation’s transplant list have strict guidelines about who qualifies, WSBTV notes. “We follow very specific criteria in determining eligibility for a transplant of any kind,” a Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta representative said in a statement, adding that the hospital is working with the family and looking into all options regarding Anthony’s healthcare.
African Americans make up the largest group of minorities in need of an organ transplant, the Office of Minority Health reports. The number of organ transplants performed on Black Americans in 2012 was only 14 percent of the number of Black Americans currently waiting for a transplant compared to 27 percent of the White Americans currently waiting.
According to Georgia law, residents are allowed to seal or expunge their juvenile records, enshrining into law the principle that underage “trouble with the law” is not a past indicator of future behavior, as Gawker notes. But other’s point to a larger pattern of racially-motivated skepticism about young black men as the reason Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta may be unwilling to budge.