I am happy to report that 10 year old Sarah Murnaghan successfully underwent a double-lung transplant yesterday. It warms my heart to be able to tell you that. I couldn't be happier. Her family says the doctors are pleased with her progress and her prognosis for recovery. She's expected to remain in the hospital for about two week and I know that many of us around the country are praying for her safe and speedy recovery.
For those of you who haven't been following the story, Sarah suffers from severe cystic fibrosis. She was on the pediatric transplant list for 18 months, but children's lungs are rarely donated. Once Sarah's health began to deteriorate rapidly, her doctors determined that Sarah could be a prime candidate for an adult set of lungs. The problem is that at the age of 10, Sarah wasn't eligible for adult lungs because of government regulations that force children under the age of 12 to wait for a rare set of pediatric lungs to become available or be put on the bottom of the adult transplant list. Sarah didn't have that kind of time. So her parents asked that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sign a waiver for Sarah, allowing her to be placed on the adult list. Sebelius refused. When asked by a member of Congress about Sarah's specific case, Sebelius actually said, “I would suggest, sir, that, again, this is an incredibly agonizing situation where someone lives and someone dies.” Wow, that's pretty heartless. Suddenly the discussion of death panels where government bureaucrats get to decide who lives and dies doesn't seem all that far-fetched. I hate making this political, but that's what's happened in this country when the government decided it was going to play such a pivotal role in our lives and in our healthcare decisions. Anyway, thankfully a judge intervened, giving Sarah the chance to be placed on the adult list for a transplant. The result of that action by U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson was that little Sarah is now alive and well, recovering in a hospital bed with a new set of lungs and a new chance to live.
Sarah's parents posted on Facebook that they were "elated this day has come,” and went on to say, "We also know our good news is another family's tragedy. That family made the decision to give Sarah the gift of life -- and they are the true heroes today."
Extremely thankful that Sarah is saved, her parent's perseverance could impact other families in similar situations. The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network has decided to conduct a yearlong review of the process by which young children can be deemed eligible for adult transplants. Until that review is complete, exceptions to the “Under 12” rule will be considered on a case-by-case basis.