April 25--ST. LOUIS -- A 5-year-old heart patient who was on a transplant waiting list when he was allegedly taken from a St. Louis hospital by his father has been found safe just outside Chicago, authorities said.
Porter Stone was found at a hospital in Alsip, Ill., and the father, 33-year-old Jeffery Stone, was in custody, a police dispatcher there said early today.
Authorities say Jeffery Stone, who does not have legal custody of Porter, took the boy after he was discharged from St. Louis Children's Hospital at 3:50 p.m. Tuesday. Porter, who is at the top of the waiting list for a heart transplant, was released so he could be monitored by doctors closer to home in the Kansas City area.
After Porter was discharged, Jeffery Stone, 33, took him to the hospital pharmacy. He then called the child's mother, Tiffany Stone, who was also at the hospital, and told her he was taking the child, according to police.
Porter's parents are separated, St. Louis Police Capt. Jim Moran said, and Tiffany Stone has sole legal custody of the child. Jeffery and Porter Stone were seen leaving the hospital in a silver four-door Toyota Corolla with California license plates, according to police. A local SARAA missing child alert and an Amber Alert were issued.
Moran said Jeffery Stone had agreed to be cooperative with his estranged wife, but "she let her guard down and he took advantage of the situation."
Jeffery Stone's mother, Rhonda Matthews, likely drove Stone and the boy away from the hospital complex, police said.
Porter has been treated on and off at Children's over the last several months for cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart muscle from an unknown cause. Porter needs constant medication for his condition. Dr. F. Sessions Cole, the hospital's chief medical officer, said Tuesday that he believed Porter had enough medicine for 24 hours but could have had health complications if he did not receive a continuous dose of a required drug within the 48 hours.
Cole had no insight into why Jeffery Stone may have taken the boy but said it is not uncommon for families of sick children who are under stress to make inexplicable choices.
Patrick M. O'Connell is a reporter for the Post-Dispatch. Blythe Bernhard covers health and medicine. Follow her on Twitter @blythebernhard
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