Artificial marijuana causes death of Westmoreland boy
By Richard Gazarik
Published: Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011
A Westmoreland County boy whose lungs were damaged after smoking artificial marijuana died this morning.
Tonya Rice of Tarrs said her son, Brandon, was a "fighter, a real fighter."
The 13-year-old Southmoreland eighth-grader lost the fight for his life at 8:21 a.m. today in UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, his mother said.
Brandon had a double-lung transplant in September after becoming ill from smoking a synthetic form of marijuana known by various names, such as K2, Spice, Blaze and Vanilla Sky. In June, Brandon was placed on a respirator to keep him alive. He developed an infection because the drugs he has been administered since the transplant surgery had weakened his immune system, making it difficult for him to overcome the infection, said his mother.
"He was smart. He was caring. He was a good baseball player. He loved to hunt. He loved to fish. He was a fighter," said Tonya Rice. "It was hard, very hard. He couldn't talk to us. We had to read his lips. A lot of times we couldn't understand what he was saying. He fought and fought and fought."
Brandon smoked the fake drug from a plastic PEZ candy dispenser. The chemicals in the drug caused extensive damage .
"Thursday's a month to the day he had the transplant," his mother said. "He was sick going into it but he was so strong. He would have made it through but he got an infection he couldn't fight."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.