Use Prescription Marijuana? No Transplant!


Did you hear the story about the Seattle, Washington man who died after being denied a liver transplant because he used physician prescribed marijuana?


This horror story is just another effect of the failure of our “altruistic” organ donation system.  It hasn’t worked for twenty-four years and will not work in the next twenty-four, or fifty-four or a hundred-four.  To prevent this kind of discrimination we simply must change our approach to organ donation. Until we do, hospitals will continue to discriminate based on who they believe is the best candidate to receive a donated organ.  The best candidate, though, is not always the sickest candidate.      


56-year-old Timothy Garon, a Seattle, Washington resident, died after doctors refused to list him for a liver transplant.  The rejection, according to the hospital, was partly due to his use of medical marijuana.  Under federal law, marijuana is an illegal drug with no medical benefits.  Several states including Washington, Nevada, Oregon and California allow its use for medical purposes. Marijuana is often prescribed to ease the symptoms of glaucoma, diabetes, high blood pressure and AIDS.  The drug has also been shown to aid the appetites of patients who are not eating.
Because transplant hospitals see federal law as superseding state law they can view marijuana as an illegal addictive drug and therefore refuse organ transplants for patients who use the medically prescribed substance..  So even if you are in a state where prescription marijuana is legal, transplant hospitals can view you as a habitual illegal drug user and deny you an organ transplant.  What?  


Ironically, the continued use of other addictive medicines like Oxycodone, do not automatically disqualify patients from transplant lists, because they are legal.  Wow, what convoluted logic.


I don’t know what kind of evidence is necessary for us to change the system to presumed consent and financial incentives (see my blog of May 13, 2008), but what more do we need?  Over 150,000 people have died because the current system could not provide them with needed organs.  Isn’t twenty-four years of failure evidence enough? 

Please read and comment on my World Wide Issues  blogs on   Also…visit my Facebook site, Organ Transplant Patients, Friends and You at  OR — my Facebook home page 


About Bob Aronson

Bob Aronson is a former journalist, a Minnesota Governor's Press Secretary and talk show host. For nearly a quarter of a century, he led the Aronson Partnership, a Minnesota-based communications consultancy that prepared corporate and government executives for crisis situations, regulatory testimony, media interviews and Presentations. Among his clients were all three U.S. Mayo Clinic locations, 3M, general Mills, CH2M Hill, the U.S. Department of Energy and scores more. In 2007 bob had a heart transplant after suffering from idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy for 12 years. Shortly after he got his new heart he founded the now 4,300 member Facebook support group, Organ Transplant Initiative. At the same time, he established the Bob's Newheart blog where he has posted nearly 300 columns on organ donation, transplantation and other health related issues. The Viewpoint blog was started in late 2016 and bears the name of the Radio Talk show Bob did from 1966 until 1974, when he resigned to become Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich first Press secretary. Bob and his artist wife Robin, live in Jacksonville, Florida with their two dogs, Reilly and Ziggy. Bob is also a woodworker and makes all of the furnishings for Robin's art festival booth. He also makes one of a kind jewelry or "memories" boxes that he donates to select transplant patients, caregivers, donor families and others who have somehow contributed to making life easier for the ill, the elderly and the less fortunate. Bob is in the final stages of editing two full-length novels that will be available on Kindle when ready for release sometime in early 2017. One is a sci fi novel about an amazing discovery near Roswell, New Mexico and you will be surprised to find it has nothing to do with the Roswell story everyone knows. It features a woman scientist who investigates impact craters for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Dr. Rita Sylvester and her female student intern. The other book is a political thriller that introduces a new hero to the genre, Fargo Dennison.

Posted on May 27, 2008, in Politics of organ donation. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I love how because of the simple fact that he used medical marijauna he was denied a liver…. are you kidding me? So should everyone who abuses any drug lose their freedom to life? I guess Coors and Miller should start including “warning using drugs can make it so you will not be allowed your freedom”, oh wait but alcohol isn’t a drug what was I thinking. If you are interested in more medical marijuana research check out this medical marijuana source.


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