Dexter Barry waited 12 years to get a new heart. He saw dozens of doctors, had invasive procedures and moved states to survive. In 2020, his long wait paid off. His new heart allowed him to imagine a healthy life where he could revisit his passion for motorcycles and watch his children grow and flourish in their careers.
But in 2022, after a misdemeanor arrest kept him in jail for two days without his life-sustaining medication, his body rejected the heart.
Barry’s neighbor called 911 in November to complain that Barry, 54, had threatened to beat him up after a weeks-long fight over wifi access. A fight never occurred, but Barry was arrested on a simple assault charge.
Barry told Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer Jacob McKeon at least seven times that he needed to take his anti-rejection medications every day to survive, according to body camera footage that was reviewed by The Tributary. The next morning, according to the court transcript, Barry told Judge Gilbert Feltel the same.
“I am on medication,” Barry told the judge. “I just had a heart transplant, and I haven’t taken my medicine all day since I have been locked up, and I take rejection medicines for my heart so my heart won’t reject it, and I’m almost two years out.”
He never got his medication, according to his son and a lawyer representing his family. A pathologist hired by the family said he died after his body had rejected the heart he had waited so long for.
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