Monday, April 28, 2008

Fax, Email, Call: Don't Deny Transplants To Medical Marijuana Patients!

Tim Garon and his girlfriend, Leisa Bueno, who leans over to give him a kiss while they wait to hear if he will be put on a transplant list to receive a new liver on Thursday in Seattle. Garon was refused a spot, largely because he has used marijuana, even though it was legally approved for medical reasons. (AP Photo)

I can't stop thinking about Tim Garon, who was removed from the list to receive a liver transplant due to his legal, physician-recommended use of medical marijuana.

Four days ago, Tim, a talented musician (you can get his music on and by all accounts a great guy, was told he wouldn't be receiving a liver due to his "illicit drug use."

This is unconscionable and inhumane. Beyond that, it's simply barbaric.

I've listened to Tim's song, "Goodbye Baby," dozens of times over the past two days and I don't mind telling you that there have been a few tears.

It's hard to believe this kind of thing is still happening, even in states where voters have legalized medical marijuana when recommended by a physician.

The Liver Selection Committee that made this decision knows full well that the medical marijuana Tim Garon smoked hasn't caused liver damage. Instead, Dr. Jorge Reyes justifies the decision in an AP article by saying marijuana can be habit-forming, and he's worried that Garon would continue to use marijuana.

As Dominic Holden wrote today in the Slog, "Excuse me, but what sort of backward logic concludes it's best to let a man to die because he used the very medication that helped him live?" Hepatitis C is explicitly covered under Washington's Medical Use of Marijuana Act for helping control the nausea caused by the disease's viral load.

In the article, another doctor grasps at straws by claiming that a form of mold that can be found on marijuana could cause his body to reject the new liver, if Garon continues to smoke pot — but (a) Tim wouldn't keep smoking pot if doctors told him not to, because he's smoking it on his personal physician's advice, and is not addicted to it like a crack addict (marijuana is one of the least habit-forming drugs), (b) Tim is not suicidal, he very much wants to live; and (c) almost all medical grade marijuana is properly cured so as not to contain any mold!

So, according to the doctor, Tim is being denied the transplant for something that hasn't happened. (Of course, we know that in reality the transplant committee is making an ENORMOUS moral judgment on Tim Garon for smoking pot -- and they're willing to let him die because of that.)

The back story, for those not already familiar with Tim Garon's plight:

This Amounts To A Death Sentence For Using Legal Medical Marijuana

This isn't the first time this has happened -- but we need to do all we can to make sure that it's the last:

I just spoke with a very nice and helpful person at the UW Medical Center who has given me a fax number:

Liver Selection Committee
Fax 206-598-0628

If we could all send reasonable, respectful and short messages to this fax number explaining that we disagree with legal, physician recommended medical marijuana use being used as a basis for disqualifying patients from the list to receive livers, we very well might make some positive impact on the way they think about and handle this.

I'm going to send a message like this:

"I realize that the types of decisions you have to make regarding transplants are very difficult. But at the same time, I’d like to register my sincere opinion that denying a patient a liver transplant on the basis of his or her use of legal medical marijuana as recommended by a physician is not a good decision, not a logical one, nor is it a humane one."

I strongly encourage all of you who have access to a fax machine to send a message of your own.

For those without reasonable fax access, here are some phone numbers, but be aware that last time I tried, voicemail boxes tended to be full, preventing messages from being left. If by some chance you do get through, please be respectful but firm.

UW Medical Center Division of Transplant Main Number
(206) 598-6700

UW Medical Center Transplant Services
Jorge​ D. Reyes​,​ division chief,​ 206-​543-​9738

Kay Wicks, director,

Liver Transplant Division
Mary Kester, clinical coordinator, 206-598-4838
Theresa Hernandez, program coordinator, 206-598-4902
JoAnn Williams, patient care coordinator, 206-598-0017

Thanks for caring and blessed be...


Dominic said...

Great post. Sad story. That video of Tim is completely heart crushing.

WARPED said...

What makes these people think they can play God and decide who gets to live and who dies?? Based on his use of Medical Marijuana??
What a terrible waste of GREAT talent and a GOOD human being!