"It has been a long battle to save Riley's life," his father, Mark Hancey, told the Tribune in a statement. "We know that in our hearts we gave him every opportunity to survive. He will live in our hearts forever. He is now free to climb every mountain and run every river and will continue to do so with his family in spirit."
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This article was originally published on April 14, 2017.
Last Thanksgiving, Hancey came down with a severe case of pneumonia that left him in the hospital with collapsed lungs. Doctors determined that he needed a double-lung transplant, but after he tested positive for THC — the chief intoxicant in marijuana — he was denied a spot on the transplant list at the University of Utah Hospital.
His father, Mark Hancey, said that his son had recently smoked marijuana before being admitted to the hospital, but was shocked that this would cause a hospital to deny Riley a life-saving treatment.
"Riley did smoke marijuana on Thanksgiving night with his friends," Mark Hancey told KSL. "It's not like he's a smoker for 30 years and [had] deteriorating lungs because of that."
"She was willing to let him die over testing positive for marijuana," he told BuzzFeed. "This is what shocked me."
Officials at the hospital told KSL that they couldn't discuss Hancey's case specifically, but said that the hospital follows international guidelines for transplants, and evaluates cases individually.
"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 hospital said in a statement to KSL.
In March, Hancey was able to undergo a lung transplant with the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and is now recovering. His family has set up a YouCaring page to help cover the medical expenses.
(Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws. To learn more, click here.)