Young Man Taken off Kidney Transplant List for Medical Marijuana Use

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Garry Godfrey can’t function without medical marijuana, and now the hospital where he awaits a kidney transplant has taken him off the list.

Godfrey has Alport Syndrome, a hereditary disease that causes renal failure at a young age, as well as hearing loss and eye abnormalities.

It also causes debilitating pain, nausea and anxiety, and that’s why Garry uses medical weed. But this could potentially cost him his life.

“I’ve tried so many pharmaceuticals and none of them worked, but the medical cannabis does,” Godfrey explained. “It helps me function. It helps me take care of my kids.”

Godfrey has been on Maine Medical Center’s transplant list since 2003.

In 2010, Maine Medical, the only transplant center in the state, adopted a new policy.

“I was informed that they changed their policy, that you can no longer use marijuana,” Godfrey said, according to the Bangor Daily News. “I was taken off the list.”

Maine Medical Center spokesman Clay Holtzman would not comment to the media on Godfrey’s case but issued a statement on Tuesday.

“Our drug use policy currently prohibits transplant candidates from using marijuana, due to the risk of an invasive fungal infection known as Aspergillosis.” 

According to the CDC, aspergillosis is the second most common fungal infection among organ transplant recipients.

However, instances of invasive aspergillosis are relatively rare.

A study, published by the Huffington Post, indicated that over a one-year period, only 0.65 percent of organ transplant recipients contract aspergillosis. Another study showed no correlation between cannabis use and the survival rate of liver transplant recipients.

Meanwhile, Maine Medical says that once patients are off marijuana, they can re-apply and re-qualify and to get back on the hospital’s wait list.

This is not an option, however, for Garry Godfrey considering he’s already waited over 14 years for this transplant and says he simply cannot function without MMJ.

“You should not be discriminated against for the type of medicine you choose,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey testified in support of a proposed bill intended to prohibit hospitals from rejecting transplant patients for using medical marijuana. The bill, which is currently in committee, has bipartisan support.

If the bill passes, Maine will join California, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Washington as states with laws on the books that prevent medical centers from denying transplants to people solely because of their medical marijuana use.

Here’s hoping the committee will do the right thing for Garry Godfrey and all the rest who desperately need organ transplants and medical marijuana.

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