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A criminal record is preventing this father from donating a kidney to dying son

A criminal record is preventing this father from donating a kidney to dying son


A 2-year-old child is in danger of dying because his father is not being allowed to donate a kidney to his son because of the dad’s criminal history.

A.J. Dickerson was born without kidneys and his father, Anthony Dickerson, is a perfect match. But Emory Hospital in Atlanta delayed the transplant after Anthony Dickerson was thrown in jail for violating his probation.

The case is a chilling example of the stigmatization people with a criminal record face. While it’s usually a struggle just to find a job or a place to live, society’s desire to keep punishing people who’ve been incarcerated could in this instance kill a child who doesn’t have to die.

The child’s mother, Carmella Burgess, said the hospital told them Anthony needed to be on good behavior for 3–4 months before he could donate the kidney.

The hospital originally appeared willing to go forward with the surgery, with Emory writing the jail and asking if Dickerson could be transported to the hospital for a pre-operation appointment.

But the hospital changed it’s tune after Dickerson got out of jail, and said the earliest the surgery could occur was January 2018, Burgess said.

“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 January 2018 we will think about re-evaluating you basically,” Burgess said an interview with CBS News.

Burgess said Dickerson’s behavior shouldn’t be used to deny a lifesaving transplant.

“It’s about my son,” Carmella said. “He’s been through a lot. It’s like we’ve been waiting on this. And Dad making a mistake shouldn’t affect what he wants to do with our son.”

Dickerson also said his son shouldn’t be made to pay for his decisions.

“What do he got to do with the mistakes I made? Nothing,” Anthony said.

Burgess fears her son will not live long enough to get the transplant because his health is failing and he needs bladder surgery.

A.J. Dickerson also needs to have dialysis every day, suffered a stroke two months ago and needs constant care.

Emory has refused to comment, citing patient confidentiality laws.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page and is asking for donations. They are also on getting on the waiting list for a kidney, but awaiting a kidney that is a match can take months, and sometimes years.