Transplants

Family says hospital wouldn't give teen lung transplant over pot

Riley Hancey's family claims he was denied a lung transplant after he smoked marijuana

Riley Hancey's family claims he was denied a lung transplant after he smoked marijuana  (YouCaring)

The family of a teen in Utah said their 19-year-old son nearly died after a hospital denied him a spot on a transplant list because he had smoked marijuana a few days prior to his medical emergency, BuzzFeed reported.

Riley Hancey, who said he smoked pot on Thanksgiving night with friends but does not use marijuana frequently, was rushed to the University of Utah Hospital after his flu developed into pneumonia. Hancey reportedly developed a rare lung infection that caused scarring and was placed on life support for 30 days, according to the family’s YouCaring page.

Hancey’s father, Mark, told Buzzfeed that doctors informed the family he would die without the transplant. But when a blood test revealed Hancey had tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in his system, he reportedly was denied a spot on the transplant list. THC is the psychotropic component of marijuana. Buzzfeed reported there are no federal laws or recommendations on the use of cannabis among people who need donor organs.

“She (the doctor) was willing to let him die over testing positive for marijuana,” Mark told Buzzfeed. “That is what shocked me.” 

In a statement to Buzzfeed, a spokesman said the hospital does not have a specific policy regarding cannabis, but it does 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.”

According to an update on Hancey’s YouCaring page, he was accepted by the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and is recovering after receiving two new lungs on March 29.

“There is still a very long road ahead so please keep Riley and company in your thoughts,” the most recent update reads.