Protesters demand kidney transplant for 2-year-old in need

ATLANTA — Dozens of Emory University students and activists protested Emory Hospital in Decatur Thursday on behalf of a 2-year-old patient.

A.J. was born without working kidneys. His father, Anthony Dickerson, was found to be a perfect match.

Now, some of his legal problems seem to be standing in the way of a transplant.

Everything was set up for surgery in October, but because Dickerson was arrested again on a probation violation, Emory is now saying that the transplant needs to be delayed to make sure dad is a fit donor.


"We're here to ask for justice, to ask for Emory to reconsider, and allow this young child to get his father's kidney," said Attorney Gerald Griggs, with the Atlanta NAACP.

It's that delay, which could cost A.J. his life, that has protestors calling for justice.

"We believe in the love ethic here at Candler, and that there should be some different maneuvering on behalf of Emory for baby A.J. and his family," said Jackie Newsome, a student protestor.

Students from Emory's Candler School of Theology, along with members of the NAACP, let the administration know they want A.J. to get the surgery he needs.

"We want them to know that there are some people associated with Emory that won't stand for injustice," said Richard Williams, who is a student and intern with Black Church Studies at Emory.

"Whatever the father has done, this 2-year-old hasn't done anything and this 2-year-old deserves to live," said Williams.

Thursday, Emory healthcare's CEO sent Channel 2 a statement that said: "The health challenges of 2-year-old A.J. Burgess have captured the hearts of all of us in Atlanta. Emory's medical team is required to consider the ability of the donor to manage the many complications and health challenges that come with a major surgical procedure. It is our desire to continue to work with A.J.'s parents to work through this process."

"We're going to continue to fight. We're going to show up as much as we can, as often as we can until A.J. gets his kidney," said Williams.

As of Thursday afternoon, a petition started by A.J.'s mom on change.org had more than 135,000 signatures.

Thursday evening, students and activists sat down with Emory's CEO to discuss A.J.'s case.