Riley Hancey, the Utah man who was turned away for a lung transplant by University of Utah Hospital after he was found to have traces of pot in his system, received new lungs in a different state months later, but it wasn't enough to give his story a happy ending. Riley, whose lungs collapsed after a severe case of pneumonia last fall, died on Saturday, KSL reports. He had just turned 20 last week, per the Salt Lake Tribune. A few weeks ago, he underwent transplant surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, which agreed to treat him after his parents searched the country for a willing hospital. His parents say that after being drug-free for around a year, he smoked pot on Thanksgiving, days before becoming ill, which was enough to get him kicked off the transplant list in Utah, BuzzFeed reports.
Riley's family says he died of complications from the surgery. "We know that in our hearts we gave him every opportunity to survive," the family said on a YouCaring page. "He will live in our hearts forever. Riley is now free to climb every mountain ... and run every river [and] ... will continue to do so with his family in spirit." In an earlier statement, the Utah hospital said it does not transplant organs in "patients with active alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drug use or dependencies until these issues are addressed." BuzzFeed notes that, in a sad irony, the Pennyslvania doctors treated Riley with Marinol, an FDA-approved synthetic version of the marijuana ingredient THC, to stimulate his appetite after his weight dropped to 97 pounds. (A Canadian woman survived for six days without lungs in her body.)