The parents of ten year old Sarah Murnaghan have made an open appeal for a lung donation from anyone able to give it. Murnaghan, who has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, is unable to get an organ transplant because adults in the Pennsylvania region where she lives receive organs before children.
Under policies, children younger than 12 receive organs that match their size and age immediately. These children cannot receive adult organs until all the adults and teenagers have received an organ, even if the children are sicker.
Sarah, who has been in the hospital for three months because she needs a ventilator to breathe, has been on the wait list since 2011. Her parents only learned of the policy recently and they argue that these policies discriminate against younger children. The NY Daily News reprints from a statement published on June 2, 2013 where her parents said, “Essentially, Sarah has been left to die.”
Sarah could die in a matter of weeks. Doctors say that modified adult lungs could help save her. Adult lungs are available more often. Last year only 20 lung transplants for ages up to 11 were available.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asked Dr. John Roberts, president of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, in a letter for a policy review. She has called on officials to change organ transplant policy for children. However, changing policy could take up to two years.
Sarah’s family wants Sebelius to use the authority granted to her office to override policy and seek specific help for Sarah. CNN reported that in a statement the Murnaghans said, “Secretary Sebelius’ decision to not exercise her very clear authority under the law to intervene and mandate a variance that would help save Sarah’s life is devastating.”
Unable to wait, Sarah’s parents have made an appeal to the public. According to the NY Daily News they said, “We are told her only hope is a direct donation from the public. We recognize how difficult the end of a person’s life is-- we are at that point with Sarah. And we must now ask for the single greatest favor any parent can, and that is to consider naming our child an organ recipient should someone lose the life of a loved one in the very near future.”
Janet told CNN, “If you want to directly donate your loved one’s lungs to Sarah, the law cannot change that. And Sarah will use that and create a positive and wonderful life and legacy for your loved one.”
Watch a video about Sarah’s plight here: