Teen Denied Heart Transplant Gets a Chance, Thanks to Public Outrage

15-year-old Anthony Stokes needs a heart transplant or he could only have six months left to live. At first, doctors said that he did not qualify for the transplant list because of “non-compliance” and low grades. After his family went public with his case, Anthony was placed on the transplant list.

The initial denial of a spot on the transplant for Anthony is troubling. Anthony’s family had learned via an August 7 letter that, because Georgia teen had a “history of non-compliance” and low grades at school, he would not be placed on the list, WSBTV. A history of non-compliance is, said a letter from at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Hospital (as quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), one of the “contraindications to listing for heart transplant.”

Recipients of a heart transplant have to follow a strict regimen of medications and other follow-up care in order for the transplant to be a success. Medical professionals at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in Eggleston at first seemed to think that Anthony would not “comply” with such; they also said that Anthony’s history of trouble with the law was a factor in denying him a transplant for an enlarged heart.”They said they don’t have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups,” Melencia Hamilton, Anthony’s mother, told WSBTV.

Christine Young Brown, president of the Newton-Rockdale Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, put it bluntly, saying that doctors had “given [Anthony] a death sentence.”

Noting that “the well-being of our patients is always our first priority,” Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta spokeswoman Patty Gregory said in a statement that “we follow very specific criteria in determining eligibility for a transplant of any kind.”

The hospital also noted that it would continue “to work with this family and [look] at all options regarding this patient’s health care.” Apparently it has done so and now Anthony has been placed on the transplant list.

Nonetheless, for medical professionals to first deem Anthony not to be a candidate for a heart transplant on the grounds of past non-compliance and poor grades is unacceptable. Doctors seemed to presume that he would not be able to undergo treatment even if he knew that it was essential for his survival.

Based on statements from Anthony’s family and supporters, this will not be the case at all. Mack Major, a friend of Anthony’s, says to WSBTV that “the non-compliance is fabricating, because they don’t want to give him a heart. This is unacceptable because he must lose his life because of a non-compliance.” Anthony and his family are more than aware of how crucial a heart transplant is for him and of the necessity for him undergoing medical treatment afterwards.

Indeed, it could be possible that some of Anthony’s past behavioral issues could be linked to health problems whose severity was not completely realized.

In the United States, about 3,000 people are on the waiting list for a heart transplant at any time but only about 2,000 donor hearts are available each year. Those who have been on the list longer tend to be eligible to receive the first available heart.

Even though Anthony’s name is now on the waiting list, he is not necessarily going to receive a heart transplant. But now that the hospital has done the right thing, he and his family can hope that he might receive one. Other families should not have to go through the ordeal Anthony and his family did to be placed on the transplant list.

Photo from Thinkstock


Alicia B.
Alicia B.2 years ago

Sandra, if you think he`s a horrible person, maybe you should do something about that instead of talking about it online! YOU are his parent.

Alicia B.
Alicia B.2 years ago

Why hasn`t anyone commented on what Sandra said?

Edgar Zuim
Edgar Zuim2 years ago

Thanks, good news.

Marilyn Traver
Marilyn Traver2 years ago

Low grades? I can't believe the cruelty of some people ..............because of low grades?

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper2 years ago


Fi T.
Fi T.2 years ago

Everybody deserves the chance

Cathleen K.
Cathleen K.2 years ago

Organs need to be rationed because we don't have enough to meet the need. When there are more potential recipients than there are potential donors, decisions have to be made regarding who will get a chance to get one. This kid did not reliably show up for his appointments. I have no idea why. At 15, it could be that his family are not reliable about driving him to his appointments, or it could be that he sometimes doesn't go home when he knows he has an appointment. In either case, he's unlikely to do what's necessary to keep the heart, and therefore, giving it to him instead of someone who'll show up for all their appointments is unconscionable. And guess what? They won't! He's on the list because of public outrage, but it'll be a real fluke, involving a ton of bad luck for other people, if he gets one.

The REAL question, as John Z said, is how the hell did Dick Cheney get a heart transplant at 71? He certainly did fine without one for decades! The boards that make decisions about who will get on transplant lists and who won't really are the death panels that Republicans made up a few years ago, but they have no choice, nor will that change for the foreseeable future. Until we can custom grow organs in the lab, demand will always exceed supply.

Tim C.
Tim C.2 years ago


Mary L.
Mary L.2 years ago


Sandra W.
Past Member 2 years ago

I agree with the doctors on this one.. If someone even at 15 is a nuisance and in trouble all the time why should they get the heart when someone really worthy should have it. My eldest son is a horrible person. At 8 he was already in trouble. To this day he still doesn't care about anyone so why would he be given any help considering he is using drugs and booze? The point is that unless everyone out there starts donations of organs they better shut up about who gets them and who deserves them. When you can say without argument that you have or will donate then you have a right to start commenting on who should get transplants and to my mind only those who are willing to earn that right should have them .