19-year-old Utah man denied double-lung transplant after THC found in his system
Utah resident Riley Hancey, who was denied a lung transplant after THC was found in his system (Screen cap via KSL).

A Utah man was denied his request for a lung transplant after doctors found THC, the chief intoxicant in marijuana, present in his system.


Local news station KSL reports that 19-year-old Utah resident Riley Hancey was denied a spot on the University of Utah Hospital's transplant waiting list after a test revealed that he had recently smoked marijuana.

Hancey was hospitalized late last year after he contracted a severe form of pneumonia that required him to get a double-lung transplant in order to live. According to father Mark Hancey his son Ryan smoked marijuana with some friends shortly before he was hospitalized.

"Riley did smoke marijuana on Thanksgiving night with his friends," Mark Hancey told KSL, while also noting his son had been "drug free" for a year before he smoked on Thanksgiving. "It's not like he's a smoker for 30 years and (had) deteriorating lungs because of that."

Nonetheless, the presence of THC in Ryan's system gave the hospital enough reason to deny him the necessary lung transplant.

"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 University of Utah Hospital said in a statement given to KSL.

Mark Hancey was still incredulous at the hospital's decision.

"I couldn't believe it," he said. "Is that really a reason to disqualify him?"

However, the story does have a happy ending, as the Hancey family tells KSL that the University of Pennsylvania agreed to perform a double-transplant. He is currently in recovery after surgery in Philadelphia.

Watch a video report on Hancey's surgery below.