20-Year-Old Dies After Being Denied Lung Transplant Over Marijuana Use - News | MERRY JANE
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20-Year-Old Dies After Being Denied Lung Transplant Over Marijuana Use

Riley Hancey’s father claims the young man only smoked pot once last year.

by Chris Moore

A young Utah man has died after being denied a lung transplant due to traces of marijuana in his system. At the age of 19, Riley Hancey caught pneumonia after contracting the flu. The pneumonia led to a lung infection, causing both of his lungs to collapse. Hancey spent two months hospitalized at the University of Utah Hospital, where doctors determined that he needed a double lung transplant in order to survive.

However, the University of Utah Hospital denied the young man a transplant when Hancey tested positive for THC. Hospital officials said that they "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." Mark Hancey, the patient's father, said that Riley had smoked pot on Thanksgiving of 2016, but that that was the only time he used marijuana or any other drug in a year.

The Hancey family searched the country for a hospital willing to perform the transplant. This February, The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania agreed to accept Hancey as a patient. The young man, now 20, received the transplant late last month, but sadly died shortly after the transplant due to complications from the surgery.

It is unknown whether he would have survived if he had received the transplant sooner.


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Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.



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