Pennsylvania girl who changed U.S. medical policy doing fine
Double-lung transplant recipient changed way organs are now allocated in the U.S.
Eleven-year-old Sarah Murnaghan of Pennsylvania is doing fine after a double lung transplant earlier this year. The tough little girl changed organ allocation policy in the United States when her parents successfully took the system to court to have her lungs replaced due to sickness - and not age. Sarah is getting along and moving around on her own, and she's looking forward to celebrating Christmas.
Sarah Murnaghan is a tough little girl who changed U.S. medical policy concerning organ transplants. She's doing fine and plans to celebrate Christmas.
Sarah's mom, Janet Murnaghan with her husband went to federal court to force the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, or OPTN, to change its policies.
"When we started, we thought we were going to lose Sarah," the Newtown Square mother told reporters. "People have criticized me for going to court, but what other choice did I have?"
Among the top health stories of 2013, Sarah's case raised questions of whether it's ethical to change the way the nation's limited supply of organs is allocated based on the case of just one child.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that this jeopardized the fairness of the overall system. "I would suggest, sir, that, again, this is an incredibly agonizing situation where someone lives and someone dies," Sebelius said during a Congressional hearing.
Murnaghan says she's still smarting from that comment. "When she made the statement that somebody has to die, she stepped over a line in me as a mother," the senior Murnaghan says. "There was a lack of compassion, a lack of awareness that one life does matter."
At least nine other children have requested exemption to the existing rules this past year. Children younger than 12 years of age are out of the running for adolescent or adult lungs until these organs have been offered to the over-12 groups first.
The Murnaghans successfully argued that the severity of their daughter's illness, not age, should be the key factor in being considered for the adult transplant list.
Two of those 10 children received transplants under the OPTN exception, including Sarah, who got two sets of lungs because one failed. In addition, three children received transplants from the original waiting list registration and four are still waiting, according to records from the United Network for Organ Sharing.
One of these children who sought the exemption died while waiting. "All I can think is we didn't do it fast enough," Murnaghan said. "That child still died."
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