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Transplant survivor celebrates third birthday

The boy who finally received a new kidney after his operation was controversially delayed celebrated his third birthday this weekend. 

AJ Burgess was born without kidneys and was told he could not have a life-saving transplant because his father Anthony Dickerson, who was a perfect match, had violated his parole.

After two months of campaigning, a kidney from a deceased donor became available and AJ had a successful transplant surgery in November at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Now the three-year-old is out of the hospital and celebrating his Elmo-themed birthday with a kidney for the first time – and his mother Carmellia Burgess said: ‘I never thought he’d be looking at this day.’

 

AJ Burgess is pictured celebrating his third birthday this weekend after receiving a life-saving kidney transplant in November 

He was denied a transplant in October after his father, who was a perfect match, violated parole 

He was denied a transplant in October after his father, who was a perfect match, violated parole 

His father Anthony Dickerson (left) was arrested in September which halted the transplant process. His mother Carmellia Burgess (right) posted to Facebook and went viral

His father Anthony Dickerson (left) was arrested in September which halted the transplant process. His mother Carmellia Burgess (right) posted to Facebook and went viral

Carmellia told WXIA: ‘It’s his first birthday with a kidney.’

He was born with renal agenesis (the absence of both kidneys) that is a condition seen in just one in 4,500 live births, typically among boys.

Forty percent of fetuses with the condition are still born and it can usually be detected on an ultrasound.

Those that do survive have a number of clear symptoms, including dry loose skin, wide-set eyes, and large ears.

Most, including AJ, also need bladder surgery.  

Dickerson has repeatedly been in trouble with the law over firearm possession and was arrested again in September.

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 his temporary release.

‘If Mr Dickerson could be escorted to Emory for blood work and a pre-operative appointment tomorrow, September 29, we will be able to continue with the scheduled surgery,’ the September 28 letter says.

But then AJ’s mother Carmellia 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 told news outlets her child’s life was being unfairly endangered because of his father’s mistakes. 

The story resonated with people around the country and the local community rallied around the family, demanding justice for AJ.

Emory Healthcare officials and physicians met with AJ’s parents, their lawyers and community supporters on November 2. 

AJ (pictured in September) was born without kidneys, a condition seen in just one in 4,500 live births, typically among boys

AJ (pictured in September) was born without kidneys, a condition seen in just one in 4,500 live births, typically among boys

Agonizing fight: AJ's mother Carmellia Burgess (center) cries as Anthony Dickerson (left) looks on at a news conference outside Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on November 3

Agonizing fight: AJ’s mother Carmellia Burgess (center) cries as Anthony Dickerson (left) looks on at a news conference outside Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on November 3

A statement from Emory said the meeting was meant to open the lines of communication and to have an open and honest discussion about how best to help AJ.

‘In reviewing our communication with the family, Emory Healthcare wants to acknowledge and apologize for a breakdown in communication on our part,’ the statement said.

Emory and the family continued to communicate, and AJ remained on a list for a donated kidney even as his father went through the process to be able to donate his kidney, Davis said. 

When a kidney became available in November, the doctors decided it was in the boy’s best interest to go ahead with the dead donor’s kidney, he said.

The transplant doctors said the surgery went very well and that AJ was in recovery and would be moved to the intensive care unit, Davis said.

AJ spent Thanksgiving in the hospital and was released shortly after.

The family  fought for two months to get a kidney for little AJ 

The family  fought for two months to get a kidney for little AJ 



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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