Anthony Stokes, the 15-year-old Georgia resident who was initially denied a place on a heart transplant list because of his history of “non-compliance,” is getting a second chance. His family says that his doctors havechanged their minds, and Anthony was placed on a transplant list at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on Tuesday.
Anthony has an enlarged heart, and likely only has six months to live unless he receives a transplant. But at the beginning of this week, the doctors at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta informed his family that he wasn’t eligible for the transplant list, partly because of his history of low grades and trouble with the law. Doctors weren’t convinced that Anthony could be trusted to follow directions and manage his follow-up care.
“I know he will comply with all the rules,” Melencia Hamilton, Anthony’s mother, told ABC News in an emotional interview before the family learned the good news. “He will take his medicine because he knows that is how he has to live.”
On Tuesday, hospital officials reversed course. They did not explain why they had changed their minds, but they indicated that Anthony would be one of the first in line for a heart transplant because his condition is so serious. “We met with hospital officials about 30 minutes ago,” family spokesman Mark Bell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday afternoon. “After reviewing the situation, they said Anthony would be placed on the list for a heart transplant and that he would be first in line, due to his weakened heart condition.”
Shortly after the family’s announcement, the hospital released a statementreiterating that “a heart transplant evaluation is an ongoing process based on the patient and his or her family’s ability to meet specific transplant criteria.” Officials at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta wouldn’t comment on the specific nature of Anthony’s case, but said there was some “misinformation” circulating about it.
The Stoke family has received an outpouring of support this week as their story has begun to spread. Bell said they had received phone calls from as far away as Panama from people who wanted to do something to help. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference advocated on behalf of Anthony, saying that no child’s past should determine their access to health care. And at least onepetition began to circulate in support of the teen that collected nearly 1,000 signatures in 24 hours.