- Anthony Stokes, 15, has been placed on the transplant list after previously being denied because of ‘non compliance’
- Was diagnosed with an enlarged heart last month and given six months to live
- Doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta had refused to let him on the transplant waiting list
- His family and civil rights groups called the decision a ‘death sentence’
By JAMES NYE
PUBLISHED: 07:56 EST, 14 August 2013 | UPDATED: 08:22 EST, 14 August 2013
The family of an Atlanta teen denied a place on the nation’s heart transplant waiting list because of the vague reason of ‘non-compliance’, said on Wednesday that doctors had changed their mind.
Diagnosed with an enlarged heart and given six months to live, Anthony Stokes, 15, and his family had labeled Childrean’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s seemingly arbitrary decision a ‘death sentence’.
While a history of non-compliance could mean doctors were worried that Stokes would not take medication to ensure a successful transplant, his family said the truth was that Anthony’s low grades at school and a brush with the law meant the hospital initially refused him the surgery.
Desperate: Anthony Stokes, 15, needs a heart transplant or he will most likely die within six months
Civil rights groups became involved with the case last week and Stokes’ mother Melencia Hamilton gave several emotional interviews to Atlanta television stations.
Now that the hospital has changed its mind, Hamilton assured ABC News that her son will follow every instruction needed to ensure a succesful transplant.
‘I know he will comply with all the rules,’ said a crying Melencia Hamilton. ‘He will take his medicine because he knows that is how he has to live.’
reviously sentenced to a period of house arrest following a brawl to protect his younger brother, Stokes was admitted to hospital with his ankle bracelet still attached.
‘He was just fighting,’ Hamilton said to ABC News. ‘Trying to take up, just trying to take up for his brother because somebody was bullying his brother.’
A spokeswoman for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston said that they would not comment on the specifics of the case but added ther had been some ‘misinformation’ surrounding the case.
‘We follow very specific criteria in determining eligibility for a transplant of any kind,’ said hospital spokeswoman in a statement to ABC News.
Last year 319 people on the transplant list did not survive long enough to receive a new organ and currently there are 9 children on the list.
‘He’s been given a death sentence because of a broad and vague excuse of noncompliance. There was nothing specific in that decision. Just noncompliance,’ said Christine Young Brown with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference earlier this week before the hospital changed its mind.
Previously healthy, Anthony discovered last month that his heart was failing.
‘Every day is up and down. He’s OK one minute, the next minute he’s not,’ said Anthony’s mother, Melencia Hamilton to CBS Atlanta.
Despite specialists informing Anthony and his family that he has less than a year to live, they also sent them a letter on August 7th, explaining why he wouldn’t be put on the transplant list.
‘The decision was made that Anthony is currently not a transplant candidate due to having a history of non-compliance, which is one of our center’s contraindications to listing for heart transplant,’ explained the devastating letter.
‘As we discussed today with Anthony’s mother, we will not place Anthony on the heart transplant waiting list at this time due to this decision,’ the letter continues.
While the transplant list does have specific criteria for who qualifies for transplants, family and friends of Anthony allege that his low school grades and prior brushes with the law are the real reason he has was ruled out.
‘The non-compliance is fabricating, because they don’t want to give him a heart,” said family friend Mack Major to WSBTV.com.
‘This is unacceptable because he must lose his life because of a non-compliance.’
The hospital initially refuted any claims of mismanagement in a statement in which they repeat their claims of careful management of the transplant list.
‘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,’ said Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta spokeswoman Patty Gregory.
‘We follow very specific criteria in determining eligibility for a transplant of any kind.’
Anthony’s mother described earlier this week the moment she was told by the hospital her son would not be getting the transplant he needs to live.
‘Doctor came in and said he’s not a candidate. He’s not a candidate for a heart transplant,’ said Hamilton.
Family members said that the hospital explained that they fear that Anthony won’t follow the strict plan of medication and follow-up treatments necessary for the transplant to succeed.
It is not clear what evidence of ‘non-compliance’ the hospital is basing their decision on.
‘We must save Anthony’s life. We don’t have a lot of time to do it, but it’s something that must be done,’ said Mack Major, Stokes’ mentor.