Medical marijuana user dies without transplant

July 30, 2008

By Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) – A musician who was denied a liver transplant because he used marijuana with medical approval under Washington state law to ease the symptoms of advanced hepatitis C died Thursday.

The death of Timothy Garon, 56, at Bailey-Boushay House, an intensive care nursing center was confirmed to The Associated Press by his lawyer, Douglas Hiatt, and Alisha Mark, a spokeswoman for Virginia Mason Medical Center, which operates Bailey-Boushay.

Dr. Brad Roter, the physician who authorized Garon to smoke pot to alleviate for nausea and abdominal pain and to stimulate his appetite, said he did not know it would be such a hurdle if Garon were to need a transplant.

The case has highlighted a new ethical consideration for those allocating organs for transplant, especially in the dozen states that have medical marijuana laws: When dying patients need a transplant, should it be held against them if they’ve used pot with a doctor’s blessing?

Garon died a week after his doctor told him a University of Washington Medical Center committee had again denied him a spot on the liver transplant list because of his use of marijuana, although it was authorized under Washington state law.

“He said I’m going to die with such conviction,” Garon told an AP reporter at the time. “I’m not angry, I’m not mad, I’m just confused.”

Garon believes he contracted hepatitis C by sharing needles with “speed freaks” as a teenager. In recent years, he said, pot has been the only drug he’s used. In December, he was arrested for growing marijuana.

He had been in the hospice for two months and previously was rejected for a transplant at Swedish Medical Center for the same reason he later got from the university hospital.

Swedish said he would be considered if he avoided pot for six months and the university hospital offered to reconsider if he enrolled in a 60-day drug treatment program, but doctors said his liver disease was too advanced for him to last that long. The university hospital committee agreed to reconsider anyway, then denied him again.

Link  http://www.komonews.com/news/18475224.html

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