Louisiana doctor refuses to perform surgery due to teen's shirt, mom says

VILLE PLATTE, Louisiana -- A Louisiana doctor refused to perform surgery on a teen shooting victim because of the Christmas sweater he was wearing, the teen's mother claims.

Shelly Jack told KATC-TV her 17-year-old son was shot in the leg while trying to pull a friend away from a fight. When they sought medical treatment at a hospital, the doctor took issue with the shirt that had an image of Santa Claus with the text "Gangsta Wrapper" below it.

"It's a joke," Jack said to KATC. "Just a funny shirt."

The doctor at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Ville Platte, a town of around 7,000 near Lafayette, refused to treat the teen after lecturing him about the shirt.

"He looked at him and said 'You have the nerve to come in to my office with this gangsta apparel after you got shot in the leg, and all the kids got shot due to gangster activity,'" Jack claimed.

The hospital has a staff of more than 20 physicians and serves around 40,000 patients each year at the 48-bed facility, according to its Facebook page.

The teen was told he'd have to make an appointment with a surgeon to have the bullet removed from his leg. Jack said the shirt could have been removed, but the doctor didn't back down.

"I said, 'I don't see the problem, but he can take it off,'" Jack said. "He said, 'No, you don't come into my office with this gangsta gear. That's disrespectful to me and everyone else in here.' And he ranted on how he wasn't going to participate in helping a gang member. That's what I got from it," Jack told KATC.

The teen was able to make an appointment with another surgeon, Jack said. She said he's not a member of a gang and had no part in the shooting other than helping his friend when he was wounded.

She's filed a complaint with the hospital.

"Our hospital takes all complaints very seriously," hospital officials said in a statement to KATC. "We will complete a full investigation on each complaint filed. All complaints are confidential and we maintain the privacy of each patient."

"It hurt my feelings because I know my son," Jack said. "He's not perfect but he's trying. He's in high school about to graduate. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time. That doesn't give him the right to profile him because of something he was wearing."
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