by Robert A. Waters
Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. That saying was never truer than in the case of then-fifteen-year-old Anthony Stokes.
According to the Atlanta Daily Post, “the troubled teen had a thick juvenile rap sheet after frequent run-ins with authorities.”
He also suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy—because of this, the left ventricle of the heart failed to pump enough blood to permanently sustain life. Without a heart transplant, Stokes would likely die within twelve months.
In 2013, after reviewing Stokes’ medical records, school records, and criminal history, officials at the Children’s Healthcare Hospital of Atlanta denied him the transplant. The Huffington Post reported that “Stokes’ family says the teenager is being denied access to the transplant list [because of] his performance in school and previous run-ins with the law.” Stokes’ mother, Melencia Hamilton, told reporters that a hospital spokesperson told her “they don’t have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups.” In other words, the teenager would likely be “non-compliant.”
Then came the predictable outcry from those who didn’t care that there were 4,000 better candidates on the waiting list. “They’ve given [Stokes] a death sentence,” said Christine Young Brown, president of the Newton Rockdale County Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Fanning the flames of outrage, Stokes’ mother and so-called civil rights groups began a national campaign to gain sympathy for the troubled youth.
Hospital administrators quickly did a back-flip. Stokes was placed at the top of the list and got his new heart.
So it came as no surprise on April 1, 2015 (no—this was not an April Fool’s joke) when Dunwoody, Georgia cops announced that Stokes had been killed in a car crash. Not just any car crash. He was fleeing cops in a stolen car when he hit another vehicle, side-swiped a pedestrian, and rammed head-on into a highway sign. Investigators stated that they believed Stokes was running because he allegedly kicked in the door of an elderly woman, fired a gunshot at her, and attempted to rob her home.
We’ll probably never know who got bumped from the top of the waiting list for a new heart. But some more deserving soul may have died because Stokes received the gift of life.
Second chances are often precious.
Someone, however, never got that second chance.