The nation exhales in relief as Sarah Murnaghan, who suffers from severe cystic fibrosis, received a successful double-lung transplant, allowing her a new lease on life.
After a turbulent battle with the OPTN/UNOS Lung Review Board, and ultimately HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Sarah’s fight to remain alive is rewarded; she qualified and received an organ donation, regularly only accessible to patients over the age of 12. This age limit spurred public debate over how organs are allocated to those in need – ultimately drawing the sympathy from American’s all over the country.
Sarah did not just win the chance to continue living her own life – she also paved the way for other children in her same position. The OPTN/UNOS Lung Review Board currently has 31 children under age 11 on the waiting list for lung transplants. Its executive committee (who ultimately decided to save Sarah’s life) has created a new special appeal and review system for future situations similar to Sarah’s.
Medical ethicist Arthur Caplan, of the NYU Langone Medical Center and member of the OPTN/UNOS Lung Review Board stated, “When the transplant community met, they didn’t want to change that rule without really thinking carefully about it”. The appeals process that was established this week, he said, was “built on evidence, not on influence.”
After Sarah’s successful transplant, the Murnaghan family said they were “thrilled” to share the news that Sarah was out of surgery! “Her doctors are very pleased with both her progress during the procedure and her prognosis for recovery,” the family said in a statement. Way to go, Sarah!
I am so happy to hear that Sarah is able to live. Unfortunately, the battle is not over for this little girl; during double-lung transplants, surgeons must open up the patient’s chest often resulting in complications such as rejection of the new lungs and infection.
But, Sarah has fought for her life before – and won. I have a feeling she can beat this too.
“The surgeons had no challenges resizing and transplanting the donor lungs – the surgery went smoothly, and Sarah did extremely well,” Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) said. “She is in the process of getting settled in the ICU and now her recovery begins. We expect it will be a long road, but we’re not going for easy, we’re going for possible.”
To read more about Sarah’s inspiring story, click here: