Teen Denied Lung Transplant After Smoking Marijuana, Family Says

SALT LAKE CITY (KDKA) — The family of a Utah teen says he was denied a life-saving transplant after he tested positive for marijuana, according to CBS News.

Riley Hancey, 19, was hospitalized after Thanksgiving last year after coming down with a severe form of pneumonia that caused his lung to collapse.

According to a YouCaring fundraiser page, Hancey “lost all gas exchange function of his lungs due to scarring, as a result of the infection.”

The teen required a double lung transplant, but according to his family, because he tested positive for THC – the chief intoxicant in marijuana – he was denied a spot on the transplant list at University of Utah Hospital.

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His family described him as a healthy teen engaged in summer and winter spots. He worked for his brother at a ski resort and loved to travel.

The University of Utah Hospital could not comment on Hancey’s case specifically but told CBS News that they use different guidelines for the transplantation of different organs based on the difficulty of the surgery, the risk of rejection and the ability of a patient to adhere to a strict post-operative care plan.

The hospital’s statement reads:

“For heart and lung transplant, we follow guidelines set by the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT). For liver, kidney and pancreas transplant, we follow guidelines set by the American Society of Transplant Physicians. We also evaluate cases individually. The reason for these guidelines is that we have a responsibility to ensure our patients have the best possible outcomes and that we are good stewards of the rare resource of the donated organ.

“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.”

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.

On March 29, Hancey received a new set of lungs.

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