It is against the law in California for an organ transplant candidate to be discriminated against for using medical marijuana, but that did not stop a Sacramento hospital from refusing to give a patient a new heart because she uses the herb for pain.
According to a report from CBS Sacramento, Mercy General recently denied 23-year-old Summer Waltman’s request for a heart transplant because she admitted to using marijuana as a pain management tool during her evaluation. Waltman, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and a weak heart, said she has used cannabis for years to help keep her comfortable.
Unfortunately, all of Waltman’s alternatives to a heart transplant have also hit a wall. Mercy General also denied her a medical pump, which, although not as good as a healthy heart, could help prolong her life for several more years. In her current state, Waltman may only have days to live.
‘“It seems to me like they’re just sending her just to die,” Waltman’s cousin Andrew Babcock told CBS.
In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law intended to prevent hospitals from denying organ transplants to medical marijuana patients. Its language, which was first brought to the table by Democratic Assembly Marc Levine, was designed to disconnect users of medical marijuana from the “drug abuser” status, which has disqualified patients from organ transplants for years.
Essentially, the new law, which took effect at the beginning of 2016, is supposed to provide medical marijuana users with the same opportunity for organ transplants as other patients.
But apparently something got lost in translation.
So far, Mercy General has refused to elaborate on exactly why it denied the proper care to a prime candidate for a heart transplant. A spokesperson for the hospital would only say “there is very strict criteria to qualify for specialized heart procedures.”
The situation does not appear to be headed for a happy ending. Waltman’s family told CBS that Summer has been admitted to Mercy General where she is being “kept comfortable.”