Published: Fri, April 14, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Teen denied life-saving transplant for smoking pot

Teen denied life-saving transplant for smoking pot

Hancey's family searched for another hospital that would provide him with the life-saving transplant and two months ago, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania agreed.

A 19-year-old pneumonia patient was denied a life-saving lung transplant because he had marijuana in his system.

When Riley Hancey, a healthy, active young man, fell extremely ill very suddenly, he and his family couldn't have guessed that a casual smoke sesh - combined with ill-prepared hospitals and outdated notions around cannabis use - would almost cost him a lung transplant and his life. As a result, the doctors requested that Riley must be placed on the national transplant list.

"You will die. You better get your affairs in order", dad Mark Hancey says the doctor told his son. The illness left him with weak lungs and he had to be hospitalized.

The hospital said that patients can be denied from the transplant list for a variety of reasons related to substance abuse. To save his life, an immediate lung transplant was needed. However, the authorities at the hospital denied the transplant, as Riley tested positive for THC, which is one of the major intoxicants in marijuana. "This is what shocked me", noted his father.

"Riley did smoke marijuana on Thanksgiving night with his friends", Mark Hancey told KSL.

"It's not like he's a smoker for 30 years and (has) deteriorating lungs because of that", Mark Hancey said.

"We do not transplant organs in patients with active alcohol, tobacco or illicit drug use or dependencies until these issues are addressed, as these substances are contraindicated for a transplant", noted the University of Utah Hospital. University of Utah Hospital physicians told Hancey that he would need to undergo a double-lung transplant to survive, news station KSL-TV reported.

Riley was taken to the hospital without wasting any further time.

Riley is now being kept under observation.

Riley underwent a lung transplant in March and is now recovering.

Friends of the Hanceys have set up a crowdfunding page to help pay for the cost of Riley's medical procedures, as the family has been struggling to afford them. However, many others may not be so lucky.

The case brings to light the apathy, which plagues some of the nation's hospitals.

Like this: