A 15-year-old boy in DeKalb County, Ga., needs a heart transplant, however doctors say he doesn’t qualify for the transplant list, WSB-TV 2 reports.
Anthony Stokes (pictured) has an enlarged heart and has been given six months to live, but doctors have told his family that they cannot put him on the list because he has a history of “non-compliance.”
“They said they don’t have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups,” said Melencia Hamilton, Anthony’s mother. Without the transplant, Anthony doesn’t have much of a chance to live, his mother said.
While doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta didn’t give an exact reason behind why Anthony has not been added to the transplant list, his family claims they were told it was due to the teen having low grades and past issues with the law. It is an explanation that family friend Mack Major refuses to accept.
“The non-compliance is fabricating, because they don’t want to give him a heart,” Major said. “This is unacceptable because he must lose his life because of a non-compliance.”
“They’ve given him a death sentence,” said Christine Young Brown, president of the Newton Rockdale County SCLC.
When WSB-TV asked Children’s Healthcare for comment, its spokeswoman, Patty Gregory, had this to say: “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. We follow very specific criteria in determining eligibility for a transplant of any kind.”
Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress believes that there is much more at play in regards to the teen being kept off of the transplant list.
“Regardless of Anthony’s specific past, his story fits into a larger pattern of racially-motivated skepticism about young black men,” Culp-Ressler said. “The routine criminalization of black youth — thanks in large part to the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline,” which funnels a disproportionate number of black teens into the justice system for minor infractions — ensures that teens like Anthony are often seen as threats. And once society labels those kids as criminal, suspect, or “non-compliant,” their lives are typically considered to have less value.”
According to the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, African Americans make up the largest group of Americans in need of an organ transplant. Even more critical, while 29 percent of the total candidates on the waiting list are African American, they only comprised 14 percent of the donors in 2012.