Cancer Patient and Medical Marijuana User Denied Transplant
Posted by Laura Vladimirova | November 28 2011 | 4088 views | Comments ↓
Click to enlarge
For those hoping to get on organ transplant lists, the wait can be excruciating. For Norman Smith, 63, who has undergone cancer treatment for two years, the wait had finally ended. He was placed on the list by the team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and was hopeful that he would get a new liver, which would greatly help his chance of recovery. That was until Norman was removed from the list after he didn't show up for mandatory drug testing.
Smith started using medical marijuana to help alleviate "extreme pain" associated with back surgery and then for symptoms associated with his illness and brought on by his chemo. In order to regain his place on the list, Smith had to stop using medical marijuana, undergo drug tests, and receive counseling. All the while, Norman was being treated with chemotherapy because his cancer had returned.
Smith's cancer is inoperable and if he doesn't get the liver transplant, he will not live much longer.
The wait could be “difference between life and death,” Joe Elford told the LA TIMES. Elford is an attorney with the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. The group represents Smith and may file a lawsuit against the hospital.
There is no official blanket policy regarding medical marijuana and transplant lists. This allows medical centers to write their own procedures as they pertain to medical marijuana usage and organ donation. Medical centers differ in their approach to the issue and Cedars-Sinai defends their position on removing Smith's name from the list.
“We do not make a moral or ethical judgment about people who are smoking medical marijuana,” said Sally Stewart, a Cedars-Sinai spokeswoman. “Our concern is strictly for the health and safety of our patients.”
After the story broke, various doctors and hospital spokespeople stated reasons why they think marijuana and transplants does not mix. One of the medical community's concerns stems from the question of whether or not a patient under the influence of medical marijuana is able to follow the complicated medication regimen post-transplant. Dr. Jeffrey Crippin, former president of the American Society of Transplantation and medical director at Washington University was quoted by LAist as saying, "If you are drunk or high or stoned, you are not going to take your medicine."
Nancy, a registered nurse working in the I.C.U. at a hospital in Arizona said, “This is a total misconception and should not be used as a reason for denying a transplant.”
Stewart from Cedars-Sinai also mentioned a mold associated with transplants and medical marijuana that may be fatal to patients, as well as a greater susceptibility to lung infections.
Smith, a recovered alcoholic, has used marijuana recreationally but that his recent usage was prescribed by his oncologist, who confirms Smith's statement. Since there are over 16,000 people are on the national wait list for liver transplants and the average wait is approximately 300 days, Smith stopped using medical marijuana in order to comply with the rules set-forth by the hospital so that the medical authorities would place him back on the list.
His fate on the list is currently unclear, but his fate off the list is. If his name isn't added soon, he won't have much time left.
To create link towards this article on your website,
copy and paste the text below in your page.
Sunday, 27 November 2011
Article by Laura Vladimirova, on Nov. 28th 2011