Sarah Murnaghan, a 10 year-old girl whose struggle with cystic fibrosis received national attention during a congressional hearing with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is receiving a long-sought lung transplant, according to Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Penn.
Sarah’s mother, Janet, announced the news this morning in a Facebook post:
God is great! He moved the mountain! Sarah got THE CALL. She will be taken back to the OR in 30min. Please pray for Sarah’s donor, her HERO, who has given her the gift of life. Today their family has experienced a tremendous loss, may God grant them a peace that surpasses understanding. Please pray for Sarah and her surgical team and our whole family! We are overwhelmed with emotions!!!! Thank you to all of you for the unending support. Xoxoxo!! God bless! Today is the start of Sarah’s new beginning and new life!
“I pray that the procedure concludes well, that her recovery is strong and that her body accepts the new organs,” Barletta said in a statement today. “All along, Sarah’s parents were simply asking for equitable treatment, and it appears today that is what has occurred. Thanks to her parents’ undying efforts, the public attention to her case, judicial intervention, and then finally a change to the pediatric organ transplant policy, she now has a chance to continue to live her life.”
Murnaghan almost didn’t qualify for the transplant, due to a federal regulation that would not allow her to receive a pair of adult lungs because she is under the age of 12. Barletta asked Sebelius to waive that rule in this case.
Sebelius rebuffed that request, citing the possibility that Murnaghan’s body would not accept adult lungs and someone more likely to survive the transplant would miss an opportunity to be saved.
“I would suggest, sir, that, again, this is an incredibly agonizing situation where someone lives and someone dies,” Sebelius told Barletta. “The medical evidence and the transplant doctors who are making the rule — and have had the rule in place since 2005 making a delineation between pediatric and adult lungs, because lungs are different that other organs — that it’s based on the survivability [chances].”
A federal judge overruled Sebelius. “[T]he Secretary shall direct the [Organ Procurement and Transplant Network] to immediately cease application of the Under 12 Rule as to Sarah Murnaghan so that she can be considered for receipt of donated lungs from adults based on the medical severity of her condition as compared to the medical severity of persons over 12 in the OPTN system,” U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson ordered.