University of Utah Hospital Denied Teen Transplant Due to Marijuana Use

University of Utah Hospital Denied Teen Transplant Due to Marijuana Use

WikiMedia Commons / University of Utah Health Care / CC BY-SA 3.0

A teenager in Utah was denied a life-saving organ transplant by the University of Utah Hospital after it was discovered that the teen had traces of THC in his blood stream.

According to KSL, 19-year-old Riley Hancey was struck with a severe case of pneumonia over the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday, which left him with damaged and collapsing lungs. When Hancey tried to get on the organ transplant recipient list, the University of Utah Hospital denied his request.

“Riley did smoke marijuana on Thanksgiving night with his friends,” Mark Hancey, Riley’s father, told KSL. “It’s not like he’s a smoker for 30 years and (had) deteriorating lungs because of that.”

Hancey went on to explain that his son had been drug-free for the year previous to his illness.

Although officials at the University of Utah Hospital could not comment on Hancey’s specific case, they did issue a statement which said that the university’s hospital follows international guidelines for organ transplants.

“Generally speaking, we do not transplant organs in patients with active alcohol, tobacco or illicit drug dependencies or abuse until these issues are addressed, as these substances are contraindicated for a transplant,” officials said in their statement to CBS News.

In the state of Maine, a similar incident happened to Garry Godfrey. Suffering from Alport syndrome, Godfrey had waited for nearly a decade to receive a life saving kidney transplant but was ultimately rejected based on his status as a medical marijuana patient.

Unlike Godfrey, however, Hancey found a hospital willing to perform the transplant and was able to receive a new set of lungs on March 29, 2017, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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