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Survey Studies Liver Transplant Availability for Hepatitis C Patients Who Smoke Marijuana

For many hepatitis C patients whose only option is a liver transplant, smoking medical marijuana is the only way to relieve the pain that they are experiencing. But while transplant centers in Canada manifest a greater willingness to accommodate liver transplants for those who use the drug as compared to their counterparts in the United States, not everyone is inclined to agree on this point.

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In a study conducted by a group from the University of Alberta, it was found that around 60% of Canadian centers would either do the surgery or consider it for a liver transplant patient who smoked marijuana, while 70% of US transplant programs said absolutely not. The study also found that individuals who do not have any form of social support that is, they don't have family, friends or social workers assigned to help them out are less likely to get the organ transplant that they need.

According to the group, the problem stems from the lack of sufficient literature on the issue that can support a surgeon's decision to administer organ transplant or otherwise. They suggest that physicians should come up with a set of criteria that will help determine whether or not a patient is eligible for liver transplant based on the probability of his body rejecting the organ. The criteria should be purely based on proper medical evidence.

She says that eligibility should not be affected by the fact that they smoke marijuana. If we have evidence to say the patients don't do well, then I think that's a reason to exclude people.

To prove their point, the group mentions alcohol use and transplant eligibility. Originally, alcohol use was a contraindication for liver transplant. The study found that surgeons researched on eligibility on the basis of liver health and how long it has been since the patient last consumed alcohol. Rules have been changed because of previous studies pertaining to the viability of liver transplant on those who drank alcohol. So long as the patient is sober for six months more than ninety percent of clinics in the US and Canada will consider liver transplant for him.

The group recommends a large-scale study on the matter because there isn't sufficient research to support the popular contention among transplant centers.


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