Teen With Months to Live Denied Heart Transplant Due to 'History of Non-Compliance'
In a crushing decision that will eventually silence his heart if it isn't overturned, doctors at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Hospital have refused to put a 15-year-old boy with less than six months to live on the transplant list due to "a history of non-compliance."
If Anthony Stokes, 15, doesn't get his enlarged heart replaced in less than six months he will be dead, according to a WSBTV report; but until then, his mother, Melencia Hamilton, won't stop trying to save her son's life.
"They said they don't have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups," Hamilton told WSBTV. According to her, however, a transplant is the only thing that can save her son's life. That or a miracle.
There are very strict and complex guidelines as to which patients receive scarce transplant organs the American Medical Association refers to as a national resource.
In an AMA report titled, "Ethical Considerations in the Allocation of Organs and Other Scarce Medical Resources Among Patients," these guidelines are grouped into several categories.
Doctors should consider the likelihood of benefit to the patient; the impact of treatment in improving the quality of the patient's life; the duration of benefit; the urgency of the patient's condition (how close the patient is to death). In some cases the amount of resources required for successful treatment is also considered.
While Anthony's doctors didn't state the reason he has been left off the list, family friends told WSBTV that they've been told it's partly due to the teen's low grades and trouble with the law.
"The non-compliance is fabricating, because they don't want to give him a heart," said family friend Mack Major. "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 Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
Patty Gregory, a spokeswoman for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta noted in a statement that: "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."
But according to Hamilton, if the doctors at the hospital just got to know her son, who's been at the hospital since July 14, they would love him and perhaps let him have a heart.
"I know it's wrong, because if they get to know him, they would love him," Hamilton said.