Riley Hancey, a Park City man who was initially denied a lung transplant at the University of Utah because he had smoked marijuana, died Saturday from complications due to a double lung transplant he received at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
After a severe case of pneumonia which left Hancey with failing lungs and dependent on life support, he was admitted to the Utah hospital on Dec. 2, 2016. In preparation for the transplant, tests were conducted.
Hancey was denied the transplant surgery due to traces of marijuana in his system. Therefore, he and his family sought a hospital that would perform the surgery.
“Riley did smoke marijuana on Thanksgiving night with his friends.” Riley’s father, Mark Hancey, said. “It’s not like he’s a smoker for 30 years and (had) deteriorating lungs because of that.”
They found help at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where he was admitted on March 11, 2017. On March 29, Hancey had the double lung transplant surgery.
Last week, he celebrated his 20th birthday after many months in the hospital. According to a YouCaring page set up by friends, Hancey spent more than 68 days in intensive care at the UPenn hospital. The page raised over $24,000 for Hancey’s medical expenses.
On the page, the Hancey family wrote, “It is with heavy hearts, we are devastated to announce that Riley Hancey passed away from complications of a lung transplant.”
The “outdoor enthusiast” was surrounded by his father, mother and two aunts when he died at about 4 p.m. Saturday, according to his father.
“This death is unbelievable,” Mark Hancey said. “If you could talk about angels … the [UPenn] medical staff, they are a group of angels. From the physicians down, I just couldn’t believe it.”
Other family members used social media to share the news. His older brother, Zachary Hancey, thanked the medical staffs of UPenn for their care on his personal Facebook page. He also thanked the family of the donor whose lungs Hancey received.
“It has been a long battle to save Riley’s life. We know that in our hearts, we gave him every opportunity to survive,” the statement on YouCaring continued. “He will live in our hearts forever. He is now free to climb every mountain and run every river and will continue to do so with his family in spirit.”
The following interview with Riley Hancey’s father was after his surgery, before complications occured that ultimately took his life.
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