‘A Thanksgiving Miracle’: Baby A.J. Receives Successful Kidney Transplant

A.J. Burgess has received a vital kidney transplant about two months after its controversial delay, according to family attorney Mawuli Davis.

The kidney of a recently deceased anonymous organ donor was successfully transplanted into the two-year-old Burgess’ body, according to Davis. The surgery began at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and lasted about three hours, according to FOX 5 Atlanta. Burgess, who was born without kidneys, is currently in recovery, Davis said.

“Today a family and community’s prayers have been answered,” Davis said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “His parents and family are overwhelmed with gratitude.”

Burgess will spend about a week in the hospital to recover, Davis said. The kidney is currently producing urine, an indication that it is working properly, Davis said. Burgess’ family is excited to spend time with the toddler during Thanksgiving, Davis said at the press conference.

The family received a call Tuesday night informing them that a kidney was available, Davis said. They brought Burgess to the hospital to prepare for the surgery.

Carmellia Burgess, the toddler’s mother, posted a video on Facebook documenting the moments before her son’s transplant operation.

Surgeons from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) at Egleston Hospital performed the surgery, Davis said, and Emory’s transplant team performed the operation, according to a Nov. 23 Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC) statement.

“In this season of giving thanks, all of Atlanta can be grateful that A.J. was the successful recipient of a kidney transplant,” the WHSC statement reads. “His parents were passionate and courageous advocates and they showed all of us the true meaning of unconditional love.”

Information about the identity of the donor will not be available for at least one year, Davis said.

Actor Tyler Perry gave the family a car to help them transport Burgess to his regular dialysis appointments, according to a Facebook post by Carmellia Burgess.

The child’s controversial transplant delay was the topic of several protests and vigils over the past month against Emory University Hospital (EUH) after the hospital denied Burgess’ father, Anthony Dickerson, the ability to donate a kidney to his son because he had violated the terms of his probation.

Dickerson had been arrested Sept. 28 and released from jail Oct. 2. EUH had informed the family in a letter that Dickerson could not donate his organ until he showed proof of compliance with the terms of his probation for three months.

Burgess was diagnosed Oct. 29 with peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdominal tissue often caused by an infection. He received antibiotics to treat the aftereffects of the infection, according to another family attorney, Harold Spence. The condition delayed Burgess’ ability to be physically ready to receive a transplant.

The family encouraged community members to become organ donors so that other families can “be blessed with the gift of life,” said Davis, calling the transplant “a Thanksgiving miracle.”

Burgess, who Davis said “no one expected to live,” will turn three in January 2018.

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