Is It Ethical To Deny A Lung Transplant Over Marijuana Use?

AMERICAN COUNCIL ON SCIENCE AND HEALTH | Alex Berezow
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A young man who received a lung transplant four weeks ago following a terrible case of pneumonia that caused his lungs to collapse has died. He is making national headlines because his petition to receive new lungs was initially rejected because he had smoked marijuana.

This will very likely cause outrage, especially since more states are legalizing marijuana. But in a world in which transplantable organs are in short supply, hospitals must make decisions about which patients to prioritize. According to the article, the University of Utah Hospital said:
"Generally speaking, we do not transplant organs in patients with active alcohol, tobacco or illicit drug dependencies or abuse until these issues are addressed, as these substances are contraindicated for a transplant."

The hospital elaborated that they consider "the difficulty of the surgery, the risk of rejection and the ability of a patient to adhere to a strict post-operative care plan" in making transplant decisions.

In other words, determining if a patient is healthy enough and capable of properly caring for himself is a nice way of asking, "Will the organ be wasted on this patient?" Continue reading
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