Quantcast
Connect with us

Hospital denies woman’s kidney transplant due to medical marijuana use

Published

on

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.

RELATED: Tommy Chong vows to treat prostate cancer with hemp oil
——

For the second time in less than a year, one of the largest hospitals in Los Angeles has removed a patient from an organ transplant list due to medical marijuana use, Raw Story has learned.

ADVERTISEMENT

Toni Trujillo (pictured left), 40, came to California in 2010 to seek out specialized treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, having contracted a rare disorder in her youth that causes inflammation of the kidneys. She underwent her first transplant in 1991, and has been receiving regular dialysis treatments since 2007 in anticipation of a second.

Trujillo, however, was removed from that list in April after hospital staff learned that she’d been legally using medical marijuana since August 2010 at the recommendation of an independent doctor. She’s now participating in a six month battery of weekly substance abuse counseling sessions and random drug tests. If Trujillo stays clean for that whole time, she’ll be eligible to be re-added to the list — at the very bottom.

“I’ve been trying to call them to find out when that six months started, but I haven’t been able to really get a straight answer,” she told Raw Story. “They’re supposed to be talking about my case this week, so hopefully I’ll find out more.”

Trujillo said that doctors told her she was removed from the list because inhaling marijuana smoke increases the risk of an infection caused by aspergillosis, a genus of common molds frequently seen growing on plants, trees and food.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Centers for Disease Control says most people are exposed to aspergillus every day in the air they breathe, but individuals with suppressed immune function are more vulnerable to infection. While rare, an aspergillus infection can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, fever and other unpredictable symptoms once it spreads outside of the lungs to other organs.

Only one person is known to have died due to an aspergillus infection directly linked to inhaled marijuana smoke, in 1988, but the fungus is still a serious problem for post-transplant patients. One study, published in 2010 (PDF), looked at 642 cases of post-transplant aspergillus infections over the course of about four years. Roughly half of the patients had died by the time the study wrapped up, which is why most high-end medical marijuana dispensaries contract with laboratories to test their products for potency and contaminants, including mold.

“I was under the impression that it was safe and legal and allowed,” Trujillo said. “Then when I found out that it’s not, it was rather disappointing that they wanted it just eliminated and [have me] take prescription medication to help with the problems that marijuana helped out with… It helps my appetite and my sleep. I felt like it was working for me.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“I felt like this was a punishment,” she concluded. “It should have been made clear from the very beginning that I was not able to use any marijuana. I’m trying really hard to get myself in better health, but I keep on getting pushed behind… I had no idea this was wrong to be doing.”

Kris Hermes, a spokesman for marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), told Raw Story that his group believes people who legally use medical marijuana “shouldn’t be penalized or punished for using a medication that works for them. They should be immediately reinstated on the transplant list.”

In a letter to Andrew Klein (PDF), director of the Cedars-Sinai transplant center, ASA lead counsel Joseph Elford called the hospital’s decision “politically motivated,” saying that it runs “counter” to scientific evidence showing the usefulness of marijuana for patients with chronic kidney failure. “I urge you to reconsider this extremely important decision and reinstate Ms. Trujillo for eligibility for a kidney transplant with Cedars-Sinai,” he wrote.

ADVERTISEMENT

Lawmakers in Washington state have listed chronic kidney failure as a medical condition for which marijuana may be recommended due to the nausea caused by dialysis treatments. California’s medical marijuana laws are even less restrictive than Washington’s, but many hospitals have policies that forbid doctors from carrying out transplants if a patient has a history of substance abuse.

“There is no over-arching policy nationally or any requirement that individual transplant center deny medical marijuana users’ eligibility on the transplant list,” Hermes told Raw Story. “This is completely discretionary and up to the individual transplant centers.”

Cedars-Sinai also denied a liver transplant to 62-year-old Norman Smith last year after they discovered that his oncologist, who actually works for Cedars-Sinai, had recommended marijuana to help Smith cope with the side effects of chemotherapy and pain from an unrelated back surgery.

ADVERTISEMENT

The hospital told Smith that his marijuana use put him at risk of infection from aspergillus as well. He was two months out from receiving the transplant at the time he was de-listed.

Cedars-Sinai did not respond to a request for comment.
——

Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.

ADVERTISEMENT

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.


This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Here’s why Jeffrey Epstein surrounded himself with scientists

Published

on

The list of confidants and friends who were fêted by the late financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein included a number of prominent scientists. Among the eye-popping names that appeared on the list: the late cosmologist Stephen Hawking, Nobel-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, physicist Frank Wilczek, neurologist Oliver Sacks, and geneticist George M. Church.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump just humiliated his own son with an absurd tweet about Greenland

Published

on

President Donald Trump confirmed multiple reports this weekend when he said that he does, indeed, hope to buy Greenland and make it part of the United States.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has said that the country, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, is “not for sale”: “Greenland belongs to Greenland.” Which should be the end of the story. Unfortunately, it’s not.

On Monday, Trump sent the following tweet, apparently trying to quell suspicions that the president just regards Greenland as another place to expand his business empire:

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump’s resolve on background checks ‘substantially softened’ after call from NRA’s Wayne LaPierre: NYT

Published

on

President Donald Trump has reversed his promises to fight for gun control, The New York Times reported Monday.

"Days after a pair of deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, President Trump said he was prepared to endorse what he described as 'very meaningful background checks' that would be possible because of his 'greater influence now over the Senate and over the House,'" the newspaper reported.

"But after discussions with gun rights advocates during his two-week working vacation in Bedminster, N.J. — including talks with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association — Mr. Trump’s resolve appears to have substantially softened, and he has reverted to reiterating the conservative positions on the gun issue he has espoused since the 2016 campaign," The Times reported.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image