- Riley Hancey, 19, came down with a severe form of pneumonia over Thanksgiving
- Doctors at the University of Utah hospital said he needed a double lung transplant in order to survive
- But they denied him a spot on the transplant list because he had THC in his system – the chief intoxicant in marijuana
- Hancey’s father said his son rarely smoked weed, but did have some with friends after Thanksgiving dinner
- His parents searched the country for another hospital that would perform a transplant and were denied by half a dozen
- The University of Pennsylvania eventually agreed to take Riley
- He underwent surgery on March 31 and will recover at the hospital for a year
A 19-year-old pneumonia patient was denied a life-saving lung transplant because he had marijuana in his system.
Utah teen Riley Hancey became sick over Thanksgiving and had to be put on life support within days of being admitted to the hospital.
Eventually, doctors said he would need a double lung transplant to survive. But they denied him a place on the transplant list after finding THC – the main intoxicant in marijuana – in his system.
Riley’s father Mark Hancey was in the room when a doctor told his son he was going to die.
He says his son broke down in tears when the doctor said ‘You will die. You better get your affairs in order,’ according to KSL.
‘She was willing to let him die over testing positive for marijuana. This is what shocked me,’ he added to Buzzfeed News.
Mr Hancey says that his son doesn’t usually do drugs, but had some weed after Thanksgiving dinner, when he met up with an old friend.
‘It’s not like he’s a smoker for 30 years and (had) deteriorating lungs because of that,’ Mr Hancey said.
Marijuana can stay in the system for about a month after use, but tends to exit the system faster for infrequent users.
Officials at the University of Utah Hospital refused to talk specifically about Riley’s case, but said that the medical center follows international guidelines for transplants and makes decisions on a case by case basis.
‘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,’ the statement said.
Utah is one of the few holdout states that have not legalized marijuana for either recreational or medical use. It has been ok’d for a very narrow range of patients who suffer from seizures.
After being denied the transplant at University of Utah, Riley’s parents started scouring the country for another hospital that would conduct the transplant.
They said they were denied by half a dozen hospitals before the University of Pennsylvania finally stepped up and agreed to perform the surgery.
Riley was taken by air ambulance to the Philadelphia hospital on February 17.
Riley was taken to the University of Pennsylvania by medical transport plane on February 17 (above)
He underwent an eight hour surgery on March 31 and has been recovering since then
A pair of lungs became available on March 31, when he underwent surgery.
‘He looked so healthy,’ his dad said after the eight-hour surgery. ‘It made all the difference, and he still looks healthy. … He still fighting, and he’s doing well.’
Mr Hancey says his son is doing well after the surgery, but original plans to bring him back to Utah for his recovery have been cancelled because Riley is too weak.
Instead, he will spend the next year at Penn, recovering from the surgery. His family plan to take turns traveling back and forth from Utah to be by Riley’s side.
Ironically, part of Riley’s treatment at Penn has been the drug Marinal, a synthetic form of THC that stimulates appetite.
Doctors are positive that Riley will be able to get back to his outdoorsy lifestyle when he recovers.
Friends have set up a YouCaring page to help the family with the costs that won’t be covered by insurance – such as flying to visit Riley. That fund has raised more than $23,000.
Source: Mail Online