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Atlanta teen's fight for new heart is denied

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

A new week brings a new fight for the family of a 15-year-old boy who needs a life-saving transplant but is being denied.

The teen needs a new heart, but the family has learned he isn't eligible for transplant because doctors have ruled him noncompliant.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference has now joined the fight to change that.

The patient's name is Anthony Stokes, and it has been a rough month for him and his family.

First, he finds out his heart is failing, then he finds out he's not eligible for a transplant.

From the day Stokes was hospitalized, his mother said it's been a roller coaster of both emotions and sickness.

"Every day is up and down. He's OK one minute, the next minute he's not," said Stokes' mother, Melencia Hamilton.

She said being denied from the transplant list only made it worse.

"Doctor came in and said he's not a candidate. He's not a candidate for a heart transplant," said Hamilton.

She said the only reason given was because Stokes showed what the hospital called a history of noncompliance.

Hamilton and the SCLC want to know what exactly that means.

"He's been given a death sentence because of a broad and vague excuse of noncompliance. There was nothing specific in that decision. Just noncompliance," said Christine Young Brown with the SCLC.

The group talked about how Stokes is normally a healthy teenager who set high goals for himself, but one thing they did not address in the press conference, but later admitted, was that Stokes has been in some trouble and that might be the reason for the denial.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston couldn't talk about a specific patient's case or what criteria they look for transplants, but hospital spokeswoman Patty Gregory did release this statement:

"The well-being of our patients is always our first priority. We are continuing to work with this family and looking at all options regarding this patient's healthcare. We follow very specific criteria in determining eligibility for a transplant of any kind."

But the group said that's just not fair, and they're not giving up.

"We must save Anthony's life. We don't have a lot of time to do it, but it's something that must be done," said Mack Major, Stokes' mentor.

Hamilton said the hospital is giving her son only three to six months to live if he doesn't get a new heart, so of course the SCLC is focused on him right now, but they said it's an issue that could affect hundreds of kids in the future.

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