Heart Recipient, 17, Dies in High-Speed Police Chase Crash Two Years After He Was Nearly Denied Transplant Because of His Bad Behavior
Lydia Warren, Daily Mail, April 1, 2015
A teenager who received a life-saving heart transplant two years ago after initially being denied because of his bad behavior has died following a high-speed car chase with police.
Anthony Stokes, 17, died on Tuesday after he crashed a stolen Honda into a pole as he fled the scene of an attempted burglary at an elderly woman’s home in Roswell, Georgia.
His death comes less than two years after he was given a second chance at life following a heart transplant at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
The boy, from Decatur, suffered from a dilated cardiomyopathy so his heart was unable to pump enough blood. The condition can lead to irregular heartbeats, blood clots or heart failure.
He had been given just six to nine months to live but the hospital initially refused to put him on the waiting list for a new organ because they thought he would be ‘non-compliant’ with the treatment.
Patients can be disqualified from getting a transplant if a hospital doubts they’ll stick to the medication regimen after the operation.
At the time, the hospital said that Stokes had failed to take his medication in the past, so his history of non-compliance meant he was not put on the waiting list.
But family and friends alleged that his low school grades and brushes with the law were the real reason he had been ruled out.
Stokes’ mother, Melencia Hamilton, told reporters that her son, who wore a court-ordered monitoring device, had been stereotyped as a troubled teen.
Following pressure from national media coverage, the boy’s family and civil rights groups, the hospital backpedaled in August 2013, and the teenager received a new heart.
‘After reviewing the situation, they said Anthony would be placed on the list for a heart transplant and that he would be first in line, due to his weakened heart condition,’ spokesman Mark Bell said.
In 2013, the Orlando Sentinel reported that the average cost of a heart transplant is between $550,000 and $650,000. That year, 63 Georgia patients received a heart transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Just six of those were between the ages of 11 and 17.
The hospital that carried out the transplant, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, had long been quiet about the surgery and its cost–citing patient privacy laws–and declined to comment on Wednesday, saying only: ‘We are deeply saddened by this loss.’
Photographs on Stokes’ Facebook page show him shirtless with a large scar to his chest from the surgery. Other images show him pointing a firearm at the camera or holding up wads of cash.
On January 10 this year, he was arrested and charged with possession of tools for the commission of a crime and criminal attempt, according to DeKalb County jail, and he was released from jail on February 3 after posting $5,000 bond.
Then on Tuesday, Stokes put on a mask and allegedly kicked in an elderly woman’s door in Roswell and shot at her after finding her watching television inside, police told CBS46.
She fled to a back bedroom and was unharmed but bullet holes could be seen in her walls and a black car was seen fleeing from the scene.
Police responding to a nearby call spotted a car that matched its description and took chase.
With police on his tail, Stokes clipped a car on an intersection and hurtled towards the curb–knocking down a 33-year-old woman before smashing into SunTrust Bank sign and wrapping the car around its pole, Officer Lisa Holland said.
The injured pedestrian, Clementina Hernandez, is in good condition in hospital but Stokes passed away after he was cut from the car and taken to hospital.
The crash remains under investigation. The vehicle had been reported missing from Dunwoody so Dunwoody Police are also involved in the investigation.
Channel 2 recalled how, back in 2013, Stokes had said he was excited that the heart transplant would give him a second chance at life.
‘So I can live a second chance,’ he said. ‘Get a second chance and do things I want to do.’