Transplant Team to Re-Evaluate Father’s Eligibility to Donate Kidney

Protestors assemble outside Emory University Hospital (EUH) Thursday in support of A.J. Burgess./Parth Mody, Photo Editor

Emory University Hospital (EUH) is re-evaluating Anthony Dickerson’s ability to become a kidney donor for his son, A.J. Burgess, although the 2-year-old is not currently fit to receive a transplant, according to one of the family’s attorneys Harold Spence.

The Emory Healthcare transplant team; A.J. Burgess’ parents Dickerson and Carmellia Burgess; and the family’s attorneys Mawuli Davis and Spence met Monday and discussed how to address elements of the transplant process that were affected by Dickerson’s Sept. 28 arrest.

EUH delayed the child’s kidney transplant operation from Oct. 3 to January 2018 at the earliest because Dickerson violated parole, according to the AJC. EUH told the child’s mother in a letter that Dickerson, a willing, living donor and a perfect match for his son, could not donate his kidney until he showed proof of compliance with the terms of his parole for three months, according to the AJC.

“The [Monday] discussion centered around a targeted re-evaluation of Mr. Anthony Dickerson so that he might be determined to be an appropriate kidney donor for Baby A.J.,” Spence wrote. “Because Mr. Dickerson was previously approved as a donor, there will [be] no need to start from ‘square one’ in the evaluation process. The re-evaluation will target only those elements of the approval process that might have been affected by Mr. Dickerson’s Sept. 28 arrest.”

A.J. Burgess, who was born prematurely without kidneys, is not physically ready to undergo a kidney transplant because he recently suffered “bouts with peritonitis, [a type of abdominal infection], and pneumonia,” according to Spence. The child underwent surgery to remove an abdominal infection Friday and is now recovering at Egleston Children’s Hospital, according to KGW.

“Because of Baby A.J.’s condition and anticipated recovery period, the time frame for the transplant surgery remains unclear,” Spence wrote in a Nov. 6 email to the Wheel. “We are optimistic that all involved desire for it to take place sooner rather than later.”

The family of A.J. Burgess said Monday they expect EUH to perform a lifesaving kidney transplant surgery before the end of the calendar year, though no date has been set, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In a press conference Friday, A.J. Burgess’ family said they were optimistic about A.J. receiving a kidney from his father.

“[The family is] happy that they just reached this juncture,” Spence told the Wheel after the press conference. “They look forward to the day when A.J. no longer has to undergo 10 hours of daily dialysis or receive five bladder treatments each day.”

Emory Healthcare wrote in a Nov. 6 statement that the Monday meeting was a step forward in helping A.J. Burgess.

“The ongoing conversations are moving the process forward, and we will continue to work towards the shared goal of a successful transplant for A.J.,” a Nov. 6 Emory Healthcare Center statement sent to the Wheel by Interim Associate Vice President Communications for Woodruff Health Sciences Center Holly Korschun read.

EUH apologized Nov. 2 for a “breakdown of communication” with the child’s family after about 60 Candler School of Theology students and community members, including former Atlanta city councilman Derrick Boazman, protested against EUH’s decision to delay A.J. Burgess’ kidney transplant Thursday and several other protests and prayer vigils in the past weeks.

“[The protesters’] courageous act of going to the administrations building, demanding to see Emory Healthcare’s president and vowing not to to leave until they done so — that’s why we had that meeting [Nov. 2], and that’s why we have a resolution [Nov. 3],” Spence said.

CORRECTION (11/12/17 at 12:10 a.m.): An earlier version of this article stated that Anthony Dickerson was told he had to show proof of compliance with the terms of his probation for three months. In fact, Dickerson must show compliance with his parole.

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