Teen with Months to Live Denied Heart Over "History of Non-Compliance"

Anthony Stokes, a 15-year-old boy from DeKalb County, Ga., has less than six months to live. A heart transplant would save his life. But his hospital refuses to put him on the transplant list.

Why? Doctors told the family it was because of Stokes' "history of noncompliance": "They said they don’t have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups," his mother says). But friends tell Atlanta's WSB-TV it's "because Anthony has had low grades and trouble with the law."

“The non-compliance is fabricating, because they don’t want to give him a heart,” family friend Mack Major told Thomas. “This is unacceptable because he must lose his life because of a non-compliance.”

“They've given him a death sentence,” said Christine Young Brown, president of the Newton Rockdale County SCLC.

The hospital says it is "continuing to work with this family and looking at all options regarding this patient's health care." Transplant lists typically have strict guidelines for potential additions, and patients who are considered a serious risk for non-compliance—i.e., those who might refuse or be inconsistent with follow-up care—may be denied space.

But Stokes is 15. Georgia allows its residents to seal or expunge their juvenile records, enshrining into law the principle that underage "trouble with the law" is not a past indicator of future behavior—certainly not any more than "bad grades" might be. If the government of Georgia is willing to give Stokes a chance at a full and free adult life, why can't Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta?