Attorney: Criminal history of father has hospital worried about - CBS46 News

Attorney: Criminal history of father has hospital worried about follow-up on 2-year-old's potential transplant

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

An attorney for the family of a 2-year-old boy whose kidney transplant from his father is on hold because of his father's criminal history says Emory University Hospital pulled the plug on the procedure because they question whether or not the baby's father will follow through on the post-transplant protocol. 

The parents of the child hired the Davis Bozeman Law Firm to help them pressure the hospital to move forward with their son's kidney transplant.

A.J. Burgess was born without functioning kidneys. A.J., who weighs just 25 pounds, was born a month early and spent 10 months in a neonatal intensive care unit.

His mother, Carmellia Burgess, must feed him through an IV and hook him up to dialysis every day. He was recently admitted to Egleston Hospital for an abdominal infection.

His mother tells CBS46 she believes her son is being punished because of the actions of his father. AJ's father, Anthony Dickerson, was tested and proved to be the perfect match to give his son a kidney, Burgess said. However, Dickerson's arrest record apparently has become an issue for the hospital's transplant team.

Dickerson got out of prison on a parole violation recently and was set to go through the proper procedures and donate his kidney to his son Oct. 3. But he went back to jail a second time for violating the conditions of his parole.

"The lady said, 'We need your parole information and your probation info.' He said, 'Why?' 'We need you to be on good behavior for three to four months before you can give your son the kidney. And in January 2018, we will think about re-evaluating you, basically,'" said Burgess.

On Oct. 26, protesters gathered outside Emory University Hospital urging a boycott of the hospital, suggesting that the hospital's decision was racially motivated.

"If this family was white and of a different hue, we would not be having this conversation. I don't believe we would," said Derrick Boazman, a community activist who organized the protest. "This is a poor African-American family."

A spokesperson for Emory would not comment about the case specifically, citing patient privacy rules. However, she released information about Emory's kidney transplant program, which reads in part:

"It's important to note that race is never a factor. In fact, more than 50 percent of our kidney transplant patients are African American."

CBS46 found the following outline of donor procedures on the website for the United Network for Organ Sharing:

You will need to answer all the questions that are asked. This includes questions about any history of “high risk” behaviors. The transplant staff will ask about your financial situation and talk about who can give you physical help and emotional support throughout the donation process. You will be asked to fully describe your reasons for wanting to donate and how it might affect your lifestyle (such as employment and family relationships). Involving your loved ones in the educational part of the evaluation process can be helpful. They can learn about the donation surgery and recovery process and support you in your decision.

A.J.'s mother said if the transplant is put off until January, it might be too late. She said some of her son's organs are starting to fail, and he needs bladder surgery. She is hoping a petition she has set up online will bring awareness to his plight and help save her son's life. 

Regarding the child's father, the family's attorney says the hospital is worried about his ability to follow-up after a procedure. 

"Emory's lawyers indicated to me the arrest caused Emory to be concerned about whether Mr. Dickerson would follow through with the post-transplant medical protocol that would be required of a kidney donor," says attorney Harold Spence.

Burgess also set up a GoFundMe account for her son: https://www.gofundme.com/single-mother-with-sick-son.

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