Success! 2-Year-Old Is Given a New Kidney After Initially Being Denied

Thanksgiving was not looking promising for Carmellia Burgess and her two-year-old son A.J., who was born prematurely without functioning kidneys. He had been on dialysis since birth and was not expected to live.

But then everything got set up for the toddler to receive a kidney tranplant from his dad, Anthony Dickerson, who was a perfect match for his son.

However, in October, Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, announced that they were delaying the transplant. Dickerson has been in trouble with the law a few times and went to jail again last September for violating his parole. Based on this, the hospital informed A.J.’s mom that the kidney surgery would have to be postponed until documentation from Dickerson’s parole officer showed compliance for three months.

“We will re-evaluate Mr. Dickerson in January 2018 after receipt of this completed documentation,” read the letter from the hospital.

A.J. needed this kidney in order to survive and Carmellia Burgess was understandably outraged that her son’s life was being put in danger because of his father’s mistakes.

Nearly 60,000 Care2 members signed Burgess’s Care2 petition asking Emory Hospital to allow Anthony Dickerson to donate his kidney to his son.

“We feel that the hospital is only focused on dad’s behavior & not focusing on The More Important Part…which is our son getting his father’s kidney so he can begin to live a healthy life,” Burgess wrote in her petition. “Dad making a mistake shouldn’t affect his ability to help his son.”

Burgess’ story and petition were featured on Washington Post, Fox News and many other news networks.


On November 22, the day before Thanksgiving, a miracle happened.

Early that morning the Emory transplant team contacted Burgess with the news that they had a kidney and to get to the hospital as soon as possible.

The surgery began at 7:30am and it took about three hours for A.J. to receive a new kidney.

Huge thanks to the Care2 members who signed Camellia Burgess’s petition and to all the community support from activists, determined to ensure that A.J. got the chance he deserved.

“This is an unexpected Thanksgiving miracle,” said family attorney Muwaii Davis, echoing the thoughts of many. “To watch this child that no one expected to live, and now for him to have a chance at a healthy life, it’s unbelievable.”

Burgess updated her Care2 petition with this message:

“SUCCESS!  Anthony received a new kidney and is recovering. Your signatures helped convince Emory Healthcare to open up communication with us and allow his father to go through the process to be able to donate his kidney. Anthony ended up receiving a kidney from a dead donor faster and underwent surgery around Thanksgiving. We are so grateful for your support!”

As a mother who also gave birth to a premature baby who had to be kept in hospital for a week after his birth to be monitored for jaundice, I can just begin to relate to Burgess’s anxiety.

But to watch your baby struggle through the first three years of his life not knowing if he will live or die must be excruciatingly painful.

A.J. stayed in the hospital for another week before returning home, where he is doing well. There will be a meet-and-greet for his third birthday in January.

What a powerful story of love and hope, realized in part because of the Care2 petition that Carmellia Burgess created to give her son a chance of survival.

If you are inspired by the success of Burgess’s petition, why not start your own petition about an issue that’s important to you? Check out these guidelines to help you get started and soon you’ll find the Care2 community signing up to support you in your cause.



Photo Credit: Screenshot from NBC online video


Carole R
Carole Ryesterday

Very happy for him.

Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara2 days ago

good outcome

Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O4 days ago

Okay dad stuffed up, but this should never have postponed their son's lifesaving surgery. Things do happen for a reason though and perhaps the wonderful life giving gift from the donor was a healthier kidney or a better fit...Only God knows that. Over all this is wonderful news for AJ and his family, and perhaps a big eye-opener to his father to step-up to being a reliable dad who is there for his family... His choice. Perhaps dad could go on to donate for another person in a similar situation one day. God's blessing to the donor's family for their terrible loss of a loved one, but be assured this gift is appreciated.

Winn Adams
Winn A5 days ago

Good News!!!!!

Marija M
Marija M5 days ago

Glad to read that news.

Anne M
Anne Moran6 days ago

Glad precious little A.J. will have a shot at life.. - Long may he run...

Angeles M
Angeles M6 days ago

Life is good!!!!Thank you

Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold6 days ago

Yeas!! Happy Dance!! All sorts of joyous noise!! It is a shame his father was denied the chance to help his child. I send my deepest sympathies to the family of the donor. May his memory be for a wonderful memory.

Cruel Justice
Cruel J6 days ago

The father SHOULD have been allowed to donate HIS kidney so some OTHER person who has been waiting on the transplant list could have gotten the one they used. A VIABLE KIDNEY WAS WASTED.

Linda W
Linda W6 days ago

So very glad. This child deserved a chance.