Heart Transplant Unable to Save Youth, Anthony Stokes, From His Own Recklessness
Anthony Stokes had been denied a heart transplant two years earlier because of his irresponsible behavior. Although he ultimately received a transplant, it was not enough to save him from the same behavior that had nearly denied him the treatment he needed to live. The Decatur resident was killed recently in a car crash that occurred during a police pursuit. Anthony Stokes was only 17 years old.
It was in the summer of 2013 that Anthony Stokes, then 15, gained national attention when he was refused a heart transplant by the medical staff at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The teenager suffered from a condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy, which prevents the heart from pumping the blood needed by the person’s body. This condition can lead to blood clots, irregular beating, or even heart failure. Although it is often treated with medications or with the implantation of a pacemaker, Anthony’s mother said that her son would need a heart transplant or face death in less than a year.
The initial denial of a transplant was related to the fact that Anthony had not complied with the orders of his doctors to take the necessary medication. There was additional concern that he would have skipped the needed follow-up treatments that are part of a heart transplant procedure. His family charged that the refusal was related to his previous run-ins with police and his poor academic performance. The hospital refuted this accusation, claiming that heart transplants are given on the basis of specific guidelines that are applied to every patient. Facing criticism from civil rights groups, however, those responsible subsequently reversed their decision and agreed to give Anthony a new heart. He later said that he was grateful for being given a chance to live and to do the things that are possible in life. Unfortunately, neither of these goals were achieved by Anthony Stokes.
In January, he was charged with plotting a crime and possessing the tools needed to carry out the offense. Released from jail in February, he got into trouble again in March. This time, he allegedly burglarized a home in Roswell, north of Atlanta, firing shots at the elderly resident before fleeing from the scene in a stolen car. Although the resident was not hurt, another woman was injured when she was struck by Anthony while he was being chased by police. After hitting the pedestrian, his vehicle crashed into a pole. Extracted from the car alive, Anthony later died of his injuries.
Anthony’s reckless behavior was reflected by the images posted on his Facebook page, which showed aiming a pistol at viewers and displaying a wad of paper money. Anthony was basically boosting of his lifestyle of drugs, money, and violence. In another picture, he revealed the scar to his chest that had resulted from his life-saving surgery. He had been one of 63 patients in the state who had received heart transplants in 2013. Significantly, Anthony Stokes was one of the youngest of those patients. The hospital had little to say about the case involving Anthony Stokes, only stating that it was “deeply saddened” by his death.