Sarah Murnaghan, a 10-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis, challenges lung transplant rule
Sarah Murnaghan is a 10-year-old girl living in Pennsylvania. Sarah has cystic fibrosis (click on link to learn more about cystic fibrosis). She has been waiting over 18 months for a lung transplant. Her condition has since worsened and her mother now states she has only weeks to live. For the past three months Sarah has lived at a nearby children’s hospital. She must be attached to a ventilator for the task of simply breathing.
Sarah’s mother is irate with a lung transplant rule that may prevent Sarah from receiving the care she needs. In 2005, a new rule was adopted. Previously, patients would receive organ transplants based on how long they had been on the waiting list. The new rule stipulated that those with the most pressing need would receive the transplant first. The only problem is that Sara is 10 years old. She cannot receive an adult lung even if she is in a worse condition than an adult patient.
The Huffington Post reports:
“Janet Murnaghan said Sarah has been awaiting a transplant from a pediatric donor and is also eligible for a lung from an adult donor. Under a policy instituted in 2005, organ allocation policies are supposed to be based on severity of illness rather than the amount of time on the waiting list, but that approach only applies to patients over the age of 12. Sarah is a top priority on the pediatric list, but officials say there are far fewer pediatric donors due to improved treatment.
Her parents say the severity of Sarah’s illness would normally make her the highest priority for an adult lung, but all adults in the region with her blood type will be offered the lungs first, even those more stable and with less severe conditions. After an appeal was declined, the online petition was launched calling for that policy to change and for federal officials to make an “exceptional ruling” on behalf of the child.”
So because of a two-year difference Sarah might not receive life-saving care.
I try to remain objective, but I find it very hard to understand why her age should somehow matter. I hope the rule is changed.
What do you think?
Is it okay to “bend the rules” or do you say that “rules are rules?”
*UPDATE: Some people have inquired as to where they could contact the family or find out if they are the match. Although I couldn’t find a direct number to the family I would suggest you call the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia at 1-800-879-2467. I would assume they could direct you to possibly being tested to see if you are a match.
Update (06/05): CNN is reporting that a judge is now allowing Sarah to obtain a lung transplant from an adult donor. I hope she finds one soon.
(06/12) Sarah had a transplant today from an adult donor. Her mother is thankful for her daughter’s new start.
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate