(Honolulu Advertiser) Big Island resident Kimberly Reyes, who was diagnosed with Hepatitis in March 2008, had been told in July that she had less than 30 days to live. Her family claimed the Waimea resident had followed doctor’s orders, but her insurance carrier, Hawaii Medical Service Association, denied her coverage for a liver transplant she needed to survive because three toxicology tests showed trace amounts of cannabis in her system.
Kimberly Reyes died July 27 at Hilo Hospital, 16 months after being diagnosed. In the months after her diagnosis, she suffered cirrhosis of the liver, chronic Hepatitis infection, end-stage kidney disease and hepatorenal syndrome, which is caused by low blood flow to the kidneys due to liver deterioration.
Kimberly Reyes was twice denied her application for transplant by HMSA for “technical reasons,” such as missing required Alcoholics Anonymous meetings because she was too weak for doctor appointments, claimed [her mother]. However, on July 17, Reyes received HMSA’s approval for a liver transplant.
That approval signaled that the Reyes family and HMSA had apparently resolved compliance issues, [Reyes' attorney Ted] Herhold said.
Three days later HMSA denied the transplant approval after it received toxicology tests that showed cannabis in her system, Herhold said.
He claimed her marijuana use was “an indiscretion.”
She did not, according to her attorney and family, have a prescription for medical marijuana use.
Kuhns and Robin both claimed Kimberly Reyes had stopped smoking marijuana “years ago,” but took a few hits off a marijuana cigarette that day to relieve feelings of nausea, disorientation and pain.
How many transplant-eligible patients must die for their marijuana use before this needless cruelty is stopped? The reason Kimberley Reyes needed to attend those Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is because alcohol is hepatoxic (liver-killing) and we don’t want to give precious organ transplants to people who are just going to keep drinking and kill the new liver. But cannabis use has no impact on the survival rates for liver transplant, because cannabis is not hepatoxic! The drugs the hospital might have given Reyes for nausea, disorientation, and pain would have been far more dangerous to her liver than the joint she smoked.
This is nothing more than a death sentence for sick and dying people on the basis of morality alone.