15-year-old Anthony Stokes from DeKalb County, Georgia has been given six-months to live because he has an enlarged heart. The devastating news is paramounted by the fact that the hospital refuses to put Anothony on the transplant list because of his past of 'non-compliance.' His family is up in arms, saying the hospital is giving their son a death sentence, reports ABC News.
Here are the top five things you need to know about Anthony Stokes.
1. Anthony's Heart is Failing
Anthony and his family were told last month that Anthony his heart was failing due to an enlarged heart and that he only has six more months to live, according to WSBTV in Atlanta.
An enlarged heart is often caused by high blood pressure or coronary artery disease, according to WebMD. The heart enlarges in response to damage to the muscle. The enlarging of the muscle stretches the right and left ventricles until they are stretched thin. Eventually, the heart will stop pumping blood effectively.
The 15-year-old was been admitted to hospital on July 15 and had remained there ever since.
2. His Parents Believe Their Son Will Die Because of Poor Grades
Although Anthony is in desperate need for a heart transplant, the hospital has turned him down based on his history of 'non-compliance.' The hospital alleged that the ruling was based on the patient's history of not following doctor's orders. His family believes that it actually has to do with
Anthony's minor history with the law and poor grades. According to a the Today Show, Anthony was under house arrest with a ankle monitor at the time he was admitted to hospital. He received that sentence from a judge after getting into "a few fights," according to KSDK. Anthony's mother admits her son does have an anger problem.
"Doctor came in and said he's not a candidate. He's not a candidate for a heart transplant," said Anthony's mother, Melencia Hamilton.
The hospital sent the family a formal letter on August 7 denying Anthony of the procedure, according to the Daily Mail.
The decision was made that Anthony is currently not a transplant candidate due to having a history of non-compliance, which is one of our center’s contraindications to listing for heart transplant.
As we discussed today with Anthony’s mother, we will not place Anthony on the heart transplant waiting list at this time due to this decision.
Anthony, his family, and friends are devastated.
"They said they don’t have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups,” Hamilton said to WSBTV. "They said they don’t have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups."
"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.”
According to Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress, the story extends further than just bad grades. She believe's the hospital's motives are racially based, says NewsOne.com.
"Regardless of Anthony’s specific past, his story fits into a larger pattern of racially-motivated skepticism about young black men. 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."
The Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that African Americans are the largest group of Americans in need of an organ transplant. Reported by NewsOne.com, 29% of all wait list candidates are African America, but the group only accounts for 20% of total transplants. Additionally, African Americans only comprised 14 percent of the donors in 2012.
According to Dr. Nieca Goldberg, the family has the ability to appeal the decision with the hospital's ethics community.
3. Anthony Will Be Sent Home to Die Soon
Family members told WSBTV that Anthony may be sent home from the hospital soon. He will be given medication to help with his ailment, but will be left with a ticking clock until his six months are up.
"He's been given a death sentence because of a broad and vague excuse of noncompliance. There was nothing specific in that decision. Just noncompliance," said Christine Young Brown with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
According to KSDK, there are roughly 2,000 heart transplant surgeries a year and more than 3,400 people on the waiting list. 331 people died last year waiting for a heart.
4. The Hospital Are Denying Any Wrongdoing
According to the Daily Mail, the hospital has denied any allegations of bias or maltreatment.
"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," said Children's Healthcare of Atlanta spokeswoman Patty Gregory. "We follow very specific criteria in determining eligibility for a transplant of any kind."
5. An Online Campaign Has Begun to Save Stokes' Life
A new online petition has started, urging the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta not to deny Anthony a heart transplant.
Many students act out and get poor grades only to make a complete turnaround later on. Just because a student had behavioral problems, took health risks in the past or did badly in school doesn't mean he would ignore health advice in a life-or-death situation or with more support. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is essentially giving Anthony a death sentence when they could give him the gift of life and a chance to mature into a better person. Please sign the petition to convince Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to give Anthony the heart transplant he needs.
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