Riley Hancey, was denied a life-saving lung transplant by the University of Utah Hospital, according to his family.
The family claims that the hospital denied the transplant to the teen because they found traces of marijuana in the 19-year-old's system.
Riley was admitted to the hospital after being diagnosed with severe pneumonia, which caused both his lungs to collapse. As a result, a double-lung transplant was required to save his life.
Why Was The Teen Denied Treatment?
Following Riley's complaints that he felt unwell, his father Mark Hancey, took him to a local clinic. It was discovered in an X-Ray of his lungs that Riley had signs of severe pneumonia.
As a result, he was admitted at the University of Utah Hospital, where he was kept on the life support system for nearly 30 days. To save his life, an immediate lung transplant was needed. However, the authorities at the hospital denied the transplant, as Riley tested positive for THC, which is one of the major intoxicants in marijuana.
"[The doctor] was willing to let him die over testing positive for marijuana. This is what shocked me," noted his father.
The teen's father also stated that Riley seldom smoked pot, but had done marijuana with his friends on Thanksgiving.
"It's not like he's a smoker for 30 years and (had) deteriorating lungs because of that," said his father to KSL.
Though the hospital authorities gave the following statement to KSL.
"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," noted University of Utah Hospital.
After being denied treatment at the University of Utah Hospital, Riley's family members looked for hospitals throughout the country, which would treat their son.
The University of Pennsylvania Hospital agreed to treat the teen and perform the double-lung transplant.
Riley was taken to the hospital without wasting any further time. The hospital authorities at the University of Pennsylvania successfully conducted the lung transplant.
Riley is currently being kept under observation. His father is quite relieved post the operation and shared that Riley would have to stay in the hospital for a year for further recovery.
Some of the Utah teens created a page on YouCaring to raise funds for Riley's treatment.
The case brings to light the apathy, which plagues some of the nation's hospitals. A person taking legal substances has the same right to seek medical treatment as those who do not.
Riley may have been lucky to find an alternate hospital willing to perform the lung transplant. However, many others may not be so lucky.