Dying Teen Refused a New Heart Because of His Troublesome Past

Heartbreaking 32

Anthony StokesAnthony Stokes's heart is failing and he's in desperate need of a new one. Today his family worries that he won't be able to get that. No, not necessarily because of lack of availability. Because doctors at the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston Hospital have ruled him noncompliant and, therefore, ineligible for a transplant.

NoncomWHAT?! According to local news reporters, noncompliant can mean two things in the medical world: 1) They aren't following the medical recommendations or advice of the doctor, or 2) they have a troublesome personal past. 

So in so many words -- the teen, who currently has three to six months to live if he isn't given a new heart, has been given a death sentence because of his past behaviors. Whether they were inside or outside of the hospital, we don't know. His mother Melencia says the whole ordeal has been a roller coaster of emotions and sickness.

... I cannot even imagine.

According to Stokes's parents, this history of noncompliance is the only reasoning they've been given as to why Anthony isn't a candidate for the heart transplant. However, the hospital spokeswoman Patty Gregory did release a statement:

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 healthcare. We follow very specific criteria in determining eligibility for a transplant of any kind.

There's a glimmer of hope there, sure. Still, I just ... I don't understand. It's so saddening. If Stokes's past is really the reason he's not eligible, it's got to be murder on his parents' hearts. There's no possible way to accept that. There's most definitely no way I could.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) has joined the Stokes family in their fight to get Anthony a new heart. Considering this is an issue that could affect hundreds of kids in the future, it's a fight that needs to be approached head-on.

Learn more about Anthony's story, here:

CBS Atlanta 46

Can you even imagine?


Image via CBS Atlanta


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bills... billsfan1104

You are assuming that it is because rid his troublesome past. Can they prove it?? An you know what sucks?? Is that the hospital cannot defend themselves because of HIPPA. I am not saying tell the whole world everything, but damn. You don't even know the truth, dear author.

NellieQ NellieQ

Let's say your daughter is onthe list too.  You and your husband have done everything asked. You never miss an appointment, you have completely redesigned her diet, she has never committed a crime, she works hard and gets good grades in school ... she dies because the heart she could have had goes to Anthony. 

Let's just say that Anthony survives (which is unlikely since he misses appointment, eats crap and does drugs).  Or Anthony gets in trouble with the law again.   How do you feel?  There is a reason patient's are required to jump through all kinds of hoops for transplant, including psych evaluations and parental contracts of care.

MokaM... MokaMommy

They never said why he was denied. Maybe he didnt follow doctors orders. It would suck to be his parents but there are only so many hearts to go around there HAS to be some type of objective criteria to qualify. If he has a checkered past and my son has straight A's and there is only one heart, for damn sure I think my son would deserve it more. 

Jespren Jespren

Yeah...noncompliance is almost *always* because the patient refused to follow doctor's orders. It's one thing to not take all your antibiotics because you feel better (you shouldn't but many people do) or even to disagree with a course of treatment like wanting to stay on NSAIDs long term, despite the health risks, instead of having a joint replaced, but it is entirely a different story to be noncompliant over organ transplant procedures. There is a limited number of organs availible, if you can't be trusted to follow protocal before you get a new organ I don't see why they should trust you to follow it afterwards, a lifetime of careful restrictions, medications, and special diets. Noncompliants is absolutely a reaSonable disqualification. On the extreme unlikelihood the 'noncompliance' was with civil or criminal law, well, that's still a pretty good indicator that someone can't be trusted to abide by detailed restrictions, unless time has proven otherwise.

jalaz77 jalaz77

Yes I can. Hearts are not just hanging around! NellieQ came close to why this happens. Grades obviously do not play a part in a transplant but lifestyle choices do and should! If you are a smoker, type II diabetic, COPD...you'll probably never get a heart let alone a kidney. I will blame the parents here, this kid is a teen so parents are suppose to be making sure he takes care of himself. It's sad but people who are 100% compliant die because no heart is available. Noncompliance pisses me off.

jalaz77 jalaz77

I used kidney as an example too because its easier to get a kidney than a heart.

NellieQ NellieQ

Moka -

Local news has been interviewing a lot of folks.  His parents said that they didn't realize that all those things the doctors said to do were that important.  Then one of the relatives alluded to trouble that the he was in in the past.  Now the hospital can't say anything and he is a minor so his record is sealed.  The thing is that when you suddenly need a transplant or you suddenly find yourself begging to get into a drug trial ... all of this comes up.

There is a limited numer of organs and slots in cancer trials.  If you want to get to the top of the list it is simple.  Be as young and healthy as you can.  Fill out every form and go to every appointment no matter how inconvenient.  Show by deed and desire that you will do ANYTHING to get healthy.  And hope that your life illustrates that you as a healthy contributing member of society is a good thing.

lovem... lovemy2sons25

@mokamommy so what if your son was the one with the checkered past would you think another kid with a better past deserved the available heart more than your child? I highly doubt it!!

NellieQ NellieQ

I don't think for one second that his parents aren't heartbroken by the situation.  But heartbreak is not something that gets you on the list.  Of course they want him on the list and will move heaven and earth to see that happen.  I think the best thing that will come of this is people will see how desperate the need is for organs and how important it is to be an active patient. 

sugar... sugarmansmom

With transplant, noncompliance can be something as simple as missing an appointment because your car broke down on the way to the doctor.  Shit happens, all the time, and to good people.  It's interesting to me that many of you are assuming this child did something negligent-all too often people are deemed "non compliant" because of things that are largely out of their control.  It's a sad situation.  And the transplantation situation is such that there are literally boards of healthcare providers who essentially sit around and determine who "deserves" to live, based largely on subjective standards.  I wouldn't want to be on either side of that table.

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