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The parents of a 2-year-old boy in desperate need of a kidney transplant are pleading for help after being told he will have to wait months for surgery because of his father's parole violation.
Anthony Dickerson, 26, was found to be a perfect donor match for his son, A.J. Jr., who was born without kidneys, but a planned surgery on Oct. 3 was postponed by Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Dickerson and the boy's mother, Carmellia Burgess, say the hospital has postponed the surgery for at least three months because of Dickerson's criminal actions.
"They're playing with my son's life, that's what I feel like they're doing,'' Burgess told Catie Beck on TODAY Tuesday.
Dickerson, who has made at least 15 trips to jail for charges including theft and forgery, was released earlier this month on a $2,600 bond on charges of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of attempted felonies, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The hospital sent a letter, which the family provided to NBC News, saying the surgery would be pushed back until Dickerson could prove he had complied with his parole officer for three months. The letter indicated he would be re-evaluated in January 2018 after documentation of his compliance.
The jail had granted him early release to donate his kidney to his son on Oct. 3, but he missed pre-op testing and blood work because he was not released until the day before the scheduled surgery.
Burgess told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the hospital had even requested Dickerson's temporary release from jail for the pre-op work on Sept. 29, but he was not released until three days later.
"They got our hopes up,'' Burgess said on TODAY. "(AJ) has been on dialysis going on three years."
Emory University Medical Center told TODAY that it cannot share specific information about its patients, but that it is "committed to the highest quality of care."
"Guidelines for organ transplantation are designed to maximize the chance of success for organ recipients and minimize risk for living donors,'' the hospital said in a statement. "Transplant decisions regarding donors are made based on many medical, social and psychological factors."
Burgess created an online petition in the hope that it could help get a surgery scheduled as soon as possible. It has been signed more than 27,000 times. A GoFundMe page has also been set up that has raised more than $5000 for the family.
Burgess and Dickerson are hoping for some type of swift resolution.
"I don't know,'' Burgess said. "I just keep praying about it."
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