Utah Man Refused Of Lung Transplant Dies Over The Weekend

By Claire Parker, Parent Herald April 25, 10:23 pm
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A Utah man who was denied a spot on the lung transplant waiting list at the University of Utah hospital because of testing positive for marijuana, died after having a double lung transplant. PICTURED: Riley Hancey in an undated photo.
(Photo : New York Daily News/YouTube)

The Utah man, who did not get a lung transplant in his home state because he tested positive for marijuana, died over the weekend. He eventually received a lung transplant in Pennsylvania, which caused complications and led to his death.

The man, identified as 19-year-old Riley Hancey, passed away on Saturday. His father, Mark, confirmed his death and also posted about it on a YouCaring fundraising website made specifically to raise funds for Hancey's medical expenses.

In the post, Hancey's family thanked the doctors and staff at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as those from University of Utah for their care and expertise. They also took the time to thank the family who donated the pair of lungs to Hancey.

The teen suffered from flu last December. His family took him to the hospital wherein they found out that he had a rare lung infection that caused his organ to collapse.

Initially, University of Utah told his parents he would die if he did not get the surgery needed. However, after they ran a few tests and found out that Hancey tested positive for marijuana, they declined him a spot on the transplant list.

The hospital said they did not allow him to be on the list because his drug use fell under the absolute contraindications category of active alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drug use. The hospital added they would only allow him to undergo lung transplant if the issues are addressed.

Moreover, his parents said he did not use drugs regularly and just smoked on Thanksgiving, days before they took him to the hospital. He was also healthy and enjoyed winter and summer sports, that's why the diagnosis came as a shock to his family, The New York Post reported.

Last month, after the transplant at the University of Pennsylvania, the family of Hancey said doctors expressed optimism over his case. The details about the complications remained unclear.

More on lung transplants, surgeons may perform a single or double transplant. Once it is complete, the transplant could result in eliminating problems such as breathlessness. The positive effects of the transplant could last for years, Web MD shared.

More than 80 percent of people who had lung transplant surgery claimed they lived an active lifestyle since receiving the new organ. Complications, however, may come into being such as the immune system's rejection of the new lungs. Due to this, more than 80 percent survive a year after the surgery and around 55 to 70 percent remain alive after three years from the transplant.

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