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Dying 10-year-old Allowed Adult Lung Transplant

Sarah Murnaghan is dying from cystic fibrosis; a lung transplant could save her life. Only children under 12 aren’t allowed lung transplants from adults. Given pediatric lungs are a rarity, the 10-year-old could have only weeks to live.

This “under 12” rule was upheld by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, who said that although she “can’t imagine anything more difficult” than the situation facing the Murnaghan family, she can’t intervene in transplant decisions and allow Sarah to budge to the front of the donor line. She also pointed out that three other children at the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital where Murnaghan is staying are equally sick.

Nonetheless, Sebeilius's heartless stance has led her to be called a “one-woman death panel.” The family was outraged. “We will not stand by and let Sarah die and we have filed in federal court for an immediate injunction to do what Secretary Sebelius will not: give Sarah and other children in her position a fair chance at life,” said Janet Murnaghan, Sarah’s mother.

The family filed for an emergency court ruling, and Philadelphia judge Michael Baylson granted the family’s request for a temporary retraining order on the “Under 12” rule so Sarah would be eligible for a lung transplant from an adult. A hearing has been scheduled for June 14 to make a final decision.

“For us, this means that for the next 10 days, Sarah’s placement in the queue for adult lungs will be based on the severity of her illness, and she will not be penalized for her age,” the Murnaghan family said in a statement. “We are experiencing many emotions: relief, happiness, gratitude and, for the first time in months: hope.”

Photo via NBC

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