Medical marijuana patient removed from kidney transplant list

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(CNN) – A kidney patient in Maine has been taken off a transplant wait list for using medical marijuana.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are now considering a bill that would prohibit Maine hospitals from doing that.

Garry Godfrey, the man taken off the transplant list, said, “I’m not ready to die. You know, I’m 32 years old.”

Godfrey has Alport Syndrome, a hereditary disease which causes renal failure at a young age. He says it also causes debilitating pain, nausea and anxiety.

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

Godfrey says he needs a new kidney, and was put on Maine Medical Center’s transplant list in 2003.

In 2010 Maine Med adopted a new policy. “I was informed that they changed their policy, that you can no longer use marijuana. I was removed from the list.”

Maine Medical Center spokesman Clay Holtzman could not comment on this specific case but issued a statement Tuesday, saying in part, “Our drug use policy currently prohibits transplant candidates from using marijuana. Due to the risk of an invasive fungal infection known as aspergillosis.” Maine Med also said in its statement that even during a transplant, this fungal infection can be life threatening for patients whose immune system is compromised.

Maine Med says once off marijuana, patients can requalify and get put back on the hospital’s wait list. But Godfrey says marijuana is the only drug that allows him to function. He said, “You should not be discriminated against for the type of medicine you choose.”

Godfrey testified in support of a bill that would prohibit hospitals from rejecting transplant patients solely for using medical marijuana. That bill is now in committee.Copyright 2017 CNN

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