The story about a 2-year-old left waiting for a kidney transplant after his dad violated his probation has gained international attention.
Many are asking why his hospital decided to delay the procedure for three months instead of allowing his father, who is a perfect match according to family, to donate earlier this month.
A.J. was born without kidneys and doctors say it's rare that he survived past infancy. Emory Hospital told the family he would have to provide evidence of "good behavior" for the next three to four months before they would permit him to donate his kidney to his son. They said they would re-evaluate the situation in January 2018, but the family fears that may be too late.
Harold Spence, an attorney with the Davis Bozeman law firm which is working with the family, said Dickerson is committed to the post-surgery commitment and periodic doctor visits that would be required afterward.
"He has to go through periodic testing after the surgery. Period medical examinations," Dickerson said. "They were concerned as represented to us that Mr. Dickerson might not follow through with the post-surgical protocol."
Spence said that Dickerson is drug-free and ready to save his child's life.
Over the weekend, AJ was taken to the emergency room for a peritonitis infection, a serious infection that impacts all of the abdominal organs. His family shared this picture of him in his hospital bed.
Because of patient confidentiality laws, Emory cannot comment on this family's story directly. While she does not know what is in the father and son's medical history, medical correspondent Dr. Sujatha Reddy offered perspective, speculating what concerns Emory could be dealing with.
"I think they're concerned that as he's been in jail, perhaps he may have been exposed to infections and they want to sort of wait and make sure that he's healthy because this is probably a one-shot deal for A.J. and they want to make sure they do this transplant under the best circumstances," she said.
Reddy said she thinks Emory's transplant team is keeping A.J.'s best interest in mind even though their decision to delay the transplant is puzzling for many.
"What he has is very rare but it's an incredibly serious birth defect so I'm sure the transplant team is here to make sure they're helping A.J...I think they're really doing everything to make sure this transplant has the best chances of succeeding because this is the best chance to save AJ's life," she said.
HOW YOU CAN BE A DONOR
Since the story has aired, many people have come forward asking if they can be donors to A.J.
According to Emory Healthcare's website, the first step is to call the Emory Transplant Center. You'll be asked to give your personal information as well as who you'd like to donate to. You'll then be asked to enroll in Emory's patient portal.
Next, you'll receive a questionnaire. Then, you'll undergo screening and blood testing.