Anthony Stokes, 15, has been told by his doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston that he has less than six months left due to an enlarged heart. The teenager's only hope at survival is getting his name on the transplant list; however, doctors have refused to consider Stokes because of his "history of noncompliance.”
“I know it's wrong, because if they get to know him, they would love him,” Stokes's mother Melencia Hamilton told WSBTV with tears streaming down her face.
"They said they don't have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups.”
Instead of being firm and strong, an enlarged heart is weak and out of shape, causing fluid to buildup in the lungs and the heart to beat irregularly. When medications and heart devices fail to alleviate symptoms, surgery is the last viable option.
Hamilton was shocked to find out her son would be denied the life-saving heart transplant because of his poor performance in school and run-ins with the law. Stokes has been under the hospital’s care since July 14 and now he faces the possibility of being sent home with just his medication.
“They've given him a death sentence,” Christine Young Brown, president of the Newton Rockdale County SCLC, told WSBTV.
Strict guidelines exist for the national organ transplants list for both donor and recipient. According to its website, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta ranks number three among transplant programs in the United States. The hospital performed 12 pediatric heart transplants in 2012 alone.
“The well-being of our patients is always our first priority. We are continuing to work with this family and looking at all options regarding this patient's health care. We follow very specific criteria in determining eligibility for a transplant of any kind,” read a statement from Patty Gregory, spokeswoman for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.