Teen Denied Necessary Lung Transplant because of Marijuana Use

According to KSL, 19-year-old Riley Hancey came down with a severe form of pneumonia that left him with failing lungs. Within 10 days of being hospitalized, Riley's lungs collapsed and his doctors told him he needed a double-lung transplant to live.

But Mark Hancey, Riley's father, said because his son tested positive for THC he was denied a spot on the transplant list at University of Utah Hospital.

"Riley did smoke marijuana on Thanksgiving night with his friends," Mark told KSL Monday. "It's not like he's a smoker for 30 years and (had) deteriorating lungs because of that."

Officials at the University of Utah could not talk specifically about Riley's case, but they issued a written statement to KSL saying University Hospital follows international guidelines for transplants and evaluates cases individually.

"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.

According to Mark, a doctor told his son, "You will die. You better get your affairs in order," and the young man broke down in tears.

Family members took matters into their own hands and set about looking for any hospital in the country willing to do the transplant when two months ago, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania agreed.

Riley has remained under sedation as of Monday. Mark said his son will recover at the hospital in Philadelphia for a year, with family members visiting for support.

A.D.

A.D.

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