A life-saving kidney transplant is on hold for a 2-year-old boy in Georgia because of his father's probation violation. His father is a perfect match for a transplant, but his criminal past has the process caught up in red tape.
A.J. has no kidneys. He was born without them.
"That's all I ever wanted -- was a son," his father Anthony Dickerson said. "And I finally got him, and he's in this situation."
Dickerson is a 100 percent match and wants to donate one his left kidney. The surgery was scheduled.
Things started to go downhill when Dickerson was arrested for violating his probation last month. He was charged with possession of a firearm.
"Two steps closer to giving him a kidney and we got shut down, basically," said Carmella Burgess, A.J.'s mom.
Dickerson says a letter that Emory Hospital sent to the Gwinnett County Jail states, "Mr. Dickerson is currently in custody for a parole violation. If Mr. Dickerson could be escorted to Emory for blood work and a pre-operative appointment tomorrow, September 29, we will be able to continue with the scheduled surgery."
Dickerson said the hospital's tone changed once he was released.
"The Living Donor Transplant Team at Emory as asked Mr. Dickerson for evidence of compliance from his parole officer for the next three months. We will re-evaluate Mr. Dickerson in January 2018 after receipt of his completed documentation."
The family says a probation violation shouldn't stop the process -- especially if Dickerson is healthy and clean.
"It's about my son," Burgess said. "He's been through a lot. It's like we've been waiting on this. And Dad making a mistake shouldn't affect what he wants to do with our son."
Emory Healthcare told WXIA in Atlanta they cannot answer specific questions because of patient confidentiality.
"Guidelines for organ transplantation are designed to maximize the chance of success for organ recipients and minimize the risk for living donors," the hospital said.
The hospital was also asked about how someone being arrested impacts the possibility of donating a kidney -- and they would not answer the question.
Dickerson says he does not want his arrest to impact his son's chances at living a normal life.
"What do he got to do with the mistakes I made? Nothing," Dickerson said.
"He's only two," Burgess said. "He don't deserve this. We've been waiting so long for this."
A.J. suffered a stroke two months ago and needs constant care. He needs many doctor visits. Now he's being told to wait even though his perfect match sits beside him.
"They're making this about dad," Burgess said. "It's about our two-year-old son."
The family says their only option now is to get on the kidney transplant waitlist, but that could take a long time, and they are desperate for help.