By David Beasley
ATLANTA (Reuters) - A 15-year-old Atlanta boy went on the waiting list for a heart transplant two days after his family complained he was unfairly rejected because of past failure to take medicine and show up for doctor's appointments, his family told a TV station on Tuesday.
Anthony Stokes has an enlarged heart and could have less than six months to live without a transplant, his family said. Relatives told Atlanta television station WSB that Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Hospital had reversed course and added him to the wait list on Tuesday.
The family did not say why he was uncooperative, and the hospital would neither confirm or deny the reason, citing patient privacy.
"As we stated previously, a heart transplant evaluation is an ongoing process based on the patient and his or her family's ability to meet specific transplant criteria," the hospital said on Tuesday. "Our physician experts are continuing to work with this family to establish a care plan and determine the best next steps for the patient."
Stokes' mother, Melencia Hamilton, told the television station two days ago that hospital officials had refused to put Stokes on the transplant list because of fear he would not comply with medical requirements.
"They said they don't have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups," Hamilton told WSB on Sunday.
Family members did not respond to Reuters phone calls seeking comment.
Heart transplant patients can become seriously ill and even die if they miss even one day of medication, said Mariell Jessup, president of the American Heart Association.
Hospitals consider a variety of factors besides medical necessity in deciding whether to put a patient on a transplant waiting list, said Joel Newman, a spokesman for the non-profit group, United Network For Organ Sharing.
Among the considerations are whether patients understand the risk, whether they are likely to follow medication schedules and whether they can get to a doctor's office or clinic for regular follow-up care.
Patients can be placed on the waiting list by one transplant center but be turned down at another with different criteria, he added.
(Editing by Jane Sutton and Andre Grenon)