Race card pulled to get teen heart transplant despite high-risk behavior; he dies from violent crime spree

A troubled teenager who got a new chance at life after his family waged a successful campaign to have him placed on a heart-transplant list two years died Tuesday after a crime spree that included carjacking a vehicle, shooting at an elderly woman during a burglary and striking a pedestrian in the stolen car.

CBS46 News

Roswell, Ga., police told CBS46 that 17-year-old Anthony Stokes was killed when he crashed the stolen Honda Accord into a bank sign while fleeing police.

Stokes was at the center of a national media campaign in 2013 when a hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, refused to put him on a waiting list to receive the heart replacement he needed to survive a fatal heart condition.

At the time, the hospital cited concerns that Stokes would not comply with the strict regimen of behavior transplant patients need to carry out after the operations, according to reports at the time.

Anthony Stokes showed off his heart-transplant surgery scar in a Facebook photo. Photo: Daily News

His family, however, took his case to the media, claiming the hospital was making its decisions based on stereotypes about young, black men who get in trouble with the law.

Civil rights groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference took up his case and the hospital eventually reversed course.

Stokes got the new heart in August 2013.

Though he’d been in legal trouble before the operation, Stokes apparently stayed clear of the law until this year — though he did post a picture of himself on Facebook holding a gun like he was pulling a robbery.

On Jan. 10, he was arrested on a charge of possession of tools for the commission of a crime and criminal attempt, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He was released on $5,000 bail on Feb. 3, the paper reported.

In a 2013 interview with Channel 2 Action News in Atlanta, he said he forgave the hospital for judging him to be a bad risk for the new heart and said he was glad to another shot at life.

“So I can live. A second chance,” he said. “Get a second chance and do, do things I want to do.”

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