A black teenage suspect who died after slamming a stolen car into a pole during a high-speed chase with police in Roswell, Georgia received a heart transplant only two years ago — despite an extensive criminal background and a record of anti-social behavior, according to new reports.
The suspect, 17-year-old Decatur resident Anthony Stokes, allegedly fled from the scene of failed burglary and carjacking on Tuesday, engaging police in a high-speed chase that ended only when he struck a pole and killed himself. Authorities say that Stokes tried to gun down the elderly woman whom he was allegedly trying to rob.
As news of the teen’s latest extreme criminal behavior became known, some remembered him from a 2013 story when he was initially denied a heart transplant because of his criminal record — which he racked up at age 15.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that in 2013 Stokes was suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy, “in which the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, fails to pump enough blood.”
Without a transplant, doctors said that Stokes would have died in six months. But Stokes found his place on the transplant list despite his criminal history, even though doctors thought that he would not comply with the vital medication schedule — which is necessary to stop the body from rejecting the foreign organ — following the extraordinarily expensive surgery.
Melencia Hamilton, who is Stokes’ mother, said that his rap sheet and monitoring device “stereotyped” him as a “troubled teen” who might, say, have a rap sheet and a be fitted with a monitoring device.
A firestorm of criticism by civil rights activists, who all cried that doctors were racist for denying Stokes a new heart, soon forced the hospital to reverse its decision and give Stokes his heart transplant. And not only give him a heart transplant, but put him first in line for the massive procedure for which 63 other Georgians were desperately waiting.
Officials at the hospital never revealed the costs of the surgery or, notably, how it was paid for. Such surgeries usually cost upwards of $650,000.
After his operation, Stokes told the media that he was excited that it would give him a “a second chance and do things I want to do.”
The elderly woman whose door Stokes allegedly kicked down and whom he tried to murder gave no comment to the media.
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