Duval inmate dies after missing transplant medication

Published on May 26, 2023 at 12:11 pm

Jail staff knew Dexter Barry needed “urgent” transplant medication last November but never gave the medicine to him, new Duval County jail records reveal. After two days in jail, the Jacksonville man died.

The newly released medical records confirm The Tributary’s earlier reporting about Barry, a heart transplant recipient who was arrested in November and told jail medical officials that he needed to take his anti-rejection medications.

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Jail staff who processed Dexter Barry’s intake noted his medications were “urgent,” and they verified the medications with the Walmart pharmacy Barry used, but the staff never administered the drugs.

Barry was arrested Nov. 18. He spent two days in jail and was released after he paid a $503 bond. He died three days later.

A private pathologist hired by Barry’s family confirmed he died because his body rejected the heart. The pathologist said he didn’t feel medically qualified to connect Barry’s body rejecting his heart with the two days he spent in jail without taking his medications.

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However, Dr. Maya Guglin, an Indiana cardiologist on the board at the American College of Cardiology, said organ transplant recipients have to take anti-rejection medications because their bodies view the new organ as an invasion that must be fought off.

“If you just drop those medications, everyone is eventually going to reject that organ,” she told The Tributary earlier.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has refused to answer questions about Barry, citing an administrative review of his death. The newly released medical records confirm that an internal affairs investigator requested the documents May 16, the day after The Tributary sent the department questions.

Barry’s neighbor called 911 on Nov. 18 to complain that Barry, 54, had threatened to beat him up after a weekslong fight over Wi-Fi access. A fight never occurred, but Barry was arrested on a simple assault charge.

Barry told the arresting officer at least seven times that he needed to take his anti-rejection medications to survive, according to body-camera footage reviewed by The Tributary.

The next morning, according to the court transcript, Barry told a judge the same.

“I am on medication,” Barry said during his initial court appearance. “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.”

The medical records, initially obtained by Jacksonville civil rights attorney Andrew Bonderud, show that Barry also told the jail’s health care providers about his medications. Barry received only his blood pressure medicine and a drug for cholesterol and his prostate, according to the medicine log.

Bonderud said he believes the jail not giving Barry his anti-rejection medicine “was entirely driven by profit and a profit motive.” Bonderud, who is representing Barry’s family, explained: “Generic cholesterol medication probably isn’t that expensive. But the heart transplant medicine is very expensive.”

Barry was diagnosed with congestive heart failure 12 years before his October 2020 transplant. He moved to Jacksonville in 2018 because of his deteriorating condition, which is when he became a patient at the local Mayo Clinic.

This story is published through a partnership between Jacksonville Today and The Tributary

author image Nichole Manna is The Tributary’s criminal justice reporter. You can reach her at or on Twitter at @NicholeManna.

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