A.J. Burgess has been fighting since the day he was born, and his battle to stay alive became even harder this month.
Born a month premature with no kidneys, A.J. spent 10 months in a neonatal intensive care unit. Now, as a 2-year-old, A.J. is coping but very small for his age, and his health continues to get worse all the time. The young boy has been on dialysis for three years, waiting for a kidney transplant that could change his life.
And it seemed like that transplant was coming soon. A.J.'s father Anthony Dickerson was tested, and results showed that he was a 100% match with his son. The operation was scheduled for this month, and Dickerson - who has had several run-ins with the law - promised to keep on the straight and narrow for his son.
"He made it his business to say, 'Once I get out, I'm gonna promise to my son that he can get a kidney,'" A.J.'s mother Carmella Burgess told CBS. But after Dickerson was sent to jail again for a parole violation, his son's life may be in jeopardy.
Dickerson missed scheduled tests for the operation because he was in jail, but was released early the day before the transplant so he could still go through with the surgery.
But the transplant never happened, and the reason why has Carmella saying that doctors are "playing with my son's life."
Dickerson has gone to jail at least 15 times for a variety of crimes including theft and forgery.
But he never expected that would interfere with his son's life-saving surgery. After his most recent parole violation, the Emory Transplant Center in Georgia says they need to see proof of Dickerson's good behavior before they'll go through with the surgery. A.J.'s family says this delay is needless and risky.
The 2-year-old needs a bladder surgery, and Carmella says her son's condition is getting worse every day. But the hospital says Dickerson has to wait until January 2018, when his parole officer will reevaluate his case.
Until the hospital has papers from Dickerson's parole officer, A.J.'s surgery will have to wait, and his family is not sure he can hold out that long. The Emory Transplant Center says it can't share specific details about A.J.'s case, but that organ transplant procedures include "medical, social and psychological factors."
They insist these requirements are to guarantee the best outcomes for patients, but Carmella isn't convinced. "Okay, dad violated parole but our son is not healthy," she explained on the Today show, "and he won't be healthy until he gets a kidney."
A.J.'s mother has set up a Go Fund Me account to help cover his medical costs.
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