Anthony Stokes Faced a Racial Death Panel and Won
This July, 15-year-old Anthony Stokes and his family learned that he had an enlarged heart and would require a heart transplant to survive. The severity of Anthony’s condition should have put him at the top of the donor list, but Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta removed his eligibility due to “non-compliance.” Typically in donor cases, patients can be bumped from the list if they show a history of not following doctor’s instructions or taking their medicine at the appropriate times. Anthony’s heart issue was recent, he didn’t have a history of non-compliance. So what was going on here? Turns out, the doctors thought his low grades and his arrest record were proof enough of his non-compliance.
After receiving the donor rejection letter, family spokesman Mark Bell stated, “I guess he didn’t think Anthony was going to be a productive citizen.” The Stokes family then contacted the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Georgia chapter, and what do you know, the hospital reversed their decision. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta now says they are “working closely with the family” to find post-operation solutions.
This much is clear: the hospital saw this kid as disposable. They saw him as a trouble-maker who was taking the spot of a more deserving patient — a more socially valuable and “productive” patient. Rather than give this kid the chance he rightly deserved, they discarded him without even an inkling that young Anthony has people in his life who love him, who would fight for him, who would call on the forces of social justice to save their baby’s life. Apparently, this was a huge surprise to the folks at Children’s Healthcare.
The Physician’s Oath was adopted in 1948 in the wake of Nuremberg Trials as an international ethical guideline for the world’s doctors. Modeled after the Hippocratic Oath, it’s declarations include:
The health of my patient will be my first consideration;
I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;
I will maintain the utmost respect for human life;
I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;
I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour.
Someone should remind Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.