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Dad speaks out after hospital denies 2-year-old's kidney transplant

ATLANTA -- A father is speaking out against an Atlanta hospital who won't perform an organ transplant on his 2-year-old son.

CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports A.J. Burgess was born prematurely without a working kidney and needs a transplant. His father, Anthony Dickerson, is a perfect match for the organ donation.

Dickerson says he'd like to give his son the lifesaving gift, but surgeons at Emory Hospital won't perform the transplant operation because Dickerson recently served time in prison for violating probation.

"That's all I ever wanted was a son," Dickerson said. "And I finally got him, and he's in this situation."

The surgery had been planned for Oct. 3, but a hospital official sent the boy's mother, Carmellia Burgess, a letter saying it would be delayed until Dickerson could show that he has complied with the conditions of his parole for three months.

Burgess says the hospital is unfairly endangering her son because of his father's mistakes.

"They're making this about Dad," she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It's not about Dad. It's about our son."

Dickerson has repeatedly been in trouble with the law and was arrested last month for violating his probation.

That didn't initially seem to be an obstacle. A letter to the Gwinnett County jail from Emory's Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program requested he be brought in for an appointment so the procedure could go forward.

"If Mr. Dickerson could be escorted to Emory for blood work and a pre-operative appointment tomorrow, Sept. 29, we will be able to continue with the scheduled surgery," the letter states.

But then Burgess received a letter from the hospital saying the surgery would be delayed until Dickerson could provide documentation from his parole officer showing compliance for the next three months.

"We will re-evaluate Mr. Dickerson in January 2018 after receipt of this completed documentation," the letter said.

Burgess was extremely upset by the hospital's decision, saying the delay is endangering her son and that January 2018 may be too late. She told WGCL-TV that A.J.'s body is starting to fail and he needs bladder surgery.

"He's only 2," she said. "He don't deserve this. We've been waiting so long for this."

Emory spokeswoman Janet Christenbury said privacy regulations bar her from providing specific information about the hospital's patients. She also declined to speak more generally about how criminal history could affect an organ donor's eligibility.

"Guidelines for organ transplantation are designed to maximize the chance of success for organ recipients and minimize risk for living donors," she said in an emailed statement. "Transplant decisions regarding donors are made based on many medical, social, and psychological factors."

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