Parents say hospital postponed son’s kidney transplant due to father’s criminal record

ATLANTA, Ga. – The parents of a 2-year-old boy have hired an attorney to help them pressure Emory University Hospital to move forward with their son’s kidney transplant despite Emory’s concern about the donor’s criminal history.

A.J. Burgess was born a month early and without functioning kidneys. A.J., who weighs just 25 pounds, 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. She tells CBS46 News 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 on 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 Thursday, protesters gathered outside Emory University Hospital urging a boycott of the hospital.

A spokesperson for Emory would not comment about the case specifically, citing patient privacy rules.

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.