Thursday, May 1, 2008

R.I.P., Tim Garon. You Won't Be Forgotten.

In the days since I started writing about Tim Garon, who was denied a liver transplant because of his doctor-recommended use of legal medical marijuana, I've received a lot of messages from a lot of people.

But none of them has meant more to me than this:

"My name is Andy Garon. I am Tim's brother.

Thank you, alapoet, for your kindness and your support...

Keep Following Your Passion!!!"

I heard from Andy again, a little while ago; he sent me another message to let me know that Tim died peacefully this afternoon, his son Lennon at his side. "Now Tim has peace," Andy wrote. "His music and lyrics speak for themselves."

In one of those rich ironies and unbelievable coincidences of life, as I'm sitting here, crying at the keyboard, trying to find words to do Tim justice, I just this moment got another email. This one is from Laura Garon, Tim's former wife and mother of his son Lennon.

"I wanted to thank you for what you wrote on the Reality Catcher site about Tim. Tim passed away today. I thought that you might want to know. I'm his ex-wife and mother of his son, and ironically today is also my birthday. I guess that Tim wanted to make sure that our son, Lennon would not forget this day!

If you knew Tim, you would know that he probably wanted it that way....he was still making jokes and wise-cracking when I saw him last week. There are so many people who will miss him..."

Laura, it’s funny — I’m tempted to say cosmic — that I heard from you at this particular moment.

Thanks for sharing a little of the Tim you knew with me.

It makes me sad that I never got the opportunity to know Tim. Life is funny, isn’t it? Now that he’s gone, it seems as if he brought so many people together with a unity of purpose. And more people than ever are discovering his wonderful music and words... His dream of reaching a mass audience, I think, is finally coming true.

It feels strange for me to be wishing you a happy birthday on a day like this. But, yes: Happy birthday.

I’m sure you feel a little as I feel right now: Newly aware of the preciousness and fragility of life (like Tim, I have Hepatitis C), and also of life's incredible strangeness. And of its richness and beauty and mystery.


I posted yesterday about how the University of Washington Medical Center Transplant Division has frantically backpedaled away from their earlier admission that Tim's medical marijuana use was the real reason for their denial of his liver transplant. Rather than answer my emails himself, the head of the Transplant Division, Dr. Jorge Reyes, had his "communications specialist" send me an email desperately trying to spin their heartless decision into something defensible.

Of course, they're not fooling anyone; their removal of Tim from the transplant list is nothing but a moral judgment masquerading as a medical decision.

Since I made that post, I've heard from a friend who actually sat in a meeting two months ago with a Harborview liver specialist who made it clear Tim's "illicit drug use" was the reason for the transplant denial.

"I about flipped the fuck out when she said that, my friend told me. "As a Washington state employee she has a responsibility to be aware of our laws and that there was NOTHING illicit about Tim's medical cannabis use - which I also note was DISCONTINUED months earlier in an attempt to appease the bastards...

"...They thought his bust was an indicator that he had a 'marijuana drug problem' (of course they never gave him a drug evaluation or assessment so once again they were talking out their ass) and had an 'addictive personality'... also to note Tim hadn't used cannabis when they made it clear he cannot and still get a transplant (so much for an addictive personality)...

"What I REALLY don't understand is how they can look into the eyes of man knowing he is dying and be so cold. That scares the crap out of me... there's something just real fucked with these folks' interiors. The rage I feel inside about this..... I wanted to picket the doctors' homes and shame them in front of their neighbors..."

There was one small light, according to my friend: "The interns were soulful and on the ball... a number of them regularly stopped in to not only see Tim but give him support - two of them shared their feelings with me about their disgust at UW/Harborview."


Those of us to whom compassion is important can never forget Tim Garon and his brave fight for a second chance at life with a new liver -- only to be cruelly denied for using the legal medical marijuana that his doctor recommended.

This is barbaric. This is a travesty of justice. Those responsible should be ashamed of themselves, and should turn in their medical qualifications because they aren't practicing medicine anymore. They are practicing the ugliest kind of judgmental hypocrisy, and don't deserve to work in the healing profession anymore. Shame on you, Dr. Jorge Reyes, and to all those involved in this horrible decision.


Why is making moral judgments upon people more important to some "healers" than saving lives?

Why is the use of a legal, doctor-recommended and approved medicine called "illicit drug use"?

Why did Tim Garon have to spend his last months on earth worrying about his legal problems (he was actually arrested for growing his own medicinal marijuana, and then denied his liver transplant on the basis of that arrest), in addition to his failing health?

Timothy Garon, peace be with you, wherever you are.

Know that I will not stop speaking out. I will not stop trying to change these things, to make them better, as long as there is life in my body.

1 comment:

rsteeb said...

Tod H. Mikuriya, M.D. [Paraphrased]: "Neither cannabis nor human physiology has changed since cannabis was illegitimately removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1940."

Tim Garon's homicide was the result of gross negligence and delusions of moral authority.

Deepest condolences to Tim's friends and family, and may the "deciders" in such cases learn from this tragic mistake.