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Teen transplant update: Anthony Stokes making steady recovery after initial ‘non-compliance’ denial

by Kunbi Tinuoye | October 15, 2013 at 4:21 PM

GEORGIA – A teenager who was initially denied the chance of a heart transplant because of a vague decision based on “non-compliance” is going from strength to strength following surgery.

In an interview with theGrio, Melencia Hamilton said her 15-year-old son, Anthony Stokes, was making a steady recovery after a life-saving transplant seven weeks ago.

“He’s doing really well,” she said. “He’s walking around and doing normal things. He’s playing football. The other day he even did 20 push-ups.”

Though, Stokes has to follow a strict regime so his body does not reject the organ. This includes taking regular medication, a restricted diet, follow-up appointments and extra attention to personal hygiene.

The Georgia teen was thrust into the national spotlight in August when it came to light doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston ruled he was ineligible to be on the waiting list because of a history of “non-compliance.”

Noncompliance generally means that doctors doubt a patient will take his medicine or go to follow-up appointments.

However, family and friends were baffled as to what criteria doctors used since Stokes had only been at the hospital for three weeks and prior to him getting sick he was a healthy and active teenager.

Stokes’ condition was so severe -– a weakened and enlarged heart that could not pump blood efficiently — he was expected to die in six months without a transplant.

Following a media backlash and outcry from civil rights groups, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta made a dramatic U-turn and a week later put the 15-year-old at the top of the transplant list because his condition was so critical.

Stokes successfully received a heart transplant on August 20, 2013. All the biopsy results post-surgery have come up clear.

“The media played a big part in the hospital reversing its decision,” said Ms. Hamilton.

At the time she suspected he son’s low grades at school and brushes with the law influenced medical practitioners to unfairly conclude he would be a poor candidate to keep up with  treatment.

Ms. Hamilton, who is a single mom of three, today said, “I think they prejudged my family.” Although, she said she does not hold “any grudges” and is just thankful the hospital reversed its decision.

Stokes’ mentor, Mack Major, said he visits the teen almost every day to check his progress. He said Stokes is diligently keeping up with the post-operative treatment.

“He is doing extraordinarily well,” said Mr. Major. “He’s doing everything he is supposed to be doing to aid his recovery.”

Ms. Hamilton said her son is due to start homeschooling next week and in January is expected to be healthy enough to return to high school. “He’s excited to be going back to school.”

Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter at @Kunbiti

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