To Get Sarah Murnaghan Her Life-Saving Lung, Hospital Had To Trick The Organ Transplant System Into Thinking She Was 12

Sarah Murnaghan
Ten-year-old Sarah Murnaghan has been approved for a lung transplant after a controversial law kept her from being put on the donor list until she turned 12. Change.org

Less than a week after U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson granted a temporary restraining order to make 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan eligible for her much needed lung transplant, the announcement was made via Sarah's Facebook page: "God is great! He moved the mountain! Sarah got THE CALL. Please pray for Sarah's donor, her HERO, who has given her the gift of life."

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius infamously denied Sarah's entry onto the adult donor list for organ transplants due solely to the fact she hadn't turned 12 yet. Without a lung transplant, Sarah and her mother Janet were told the young girl's body would soon give in to her bouts of cystic fibrosis.

Causing fatal damage to the lungs and digestive system, cystic fibrosis affects the production of important bodily fluids such as mucus and sweat. Since the disease affects both lungs, both of them must be replaced in order for the procedure to be effective.

About 200 people in the U.S. with cystis fibrosis, including 25 children, receive lung transplants annually. A 2007 review of data from the U.S. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry and from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network found that the benefit of lung transplants to children with cystic fibrosis is questionable. Among the 248 of the 514 children on the waiting list from 1992-2002 who received a lung transplant, only five were deemed to have experienced significant estimated benefit.

The organ transplant system in the United States is controlled by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Recent changes implemented by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), which assists UNOS in finding organs, has put an age limit on climbing the list.

The Murnaghan family's wishes came true after Judge Baylson enforced his ruling on the OPTN, forcing it to come up with a secondary database that would trick the organ transplants system into thinking Sarah was 12, according to ABC News.

The decision has opened the gates for parents of other children who are denied entry to the adult donor list simply because of their age. Congressman Patrick Meehan commended Judge Boylson saying his ruling gave Sarah a "fighting chance at life."

"Sarah now has the opportunity to be afforded her appropriate place on the waiting list. It's what Sarah, her parents and all those who support them have been fighting for all along. We will continue the effort to ensure that the same is true for children across the country in a similar situation," Congressman Meehan said in a statement.

"The arbitrary policy discriminates against Sarah and other children under 12 years of age. These decisions should be made based on need and sound medical judgment, not age. The tireless efforts of Sarah's family, particularly her parents Janet and Fran, have been a true inspiration. I'm grateful also to Sarah's legal team and to Judge Baylson for his expedited ruling."

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