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Lung-Transplant Update

Ambulance
Photograph by Getty Images

The Pennsylvania girl who was initially denied a lung transplant due to her age is finally on the road to recovery, Reuters reports.

Janet Murnaghan posted an update on Facebook, saying that her daughter, Sarah, is now recovering in the intensive-care unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Wednesday morning, at 11 a.m., doctors began the six-hour operation to transplant new, healthy lungs into the 10-year-old girl. Her original lungs had been ravaged by cystic fibrosis.

"Her doctors are very pleased with both her progress during the procedure and her prognosis for recovery," Murnaghan said on Facebook on Wednesday night.

The family, which lives in Newtown Square, a suburb of Philadelphia, had long been used to dealing with the challenges posed by Sarah’s illness. But they faced an entirely new hurdle when Sarah become so frail she needed new lungs: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a policy which states that children under 12 are not allowed lung transplants, even if they’re very ill.

The Murnaghans drew national attention to their efforts to help Sarah: They went to court and sued to prevent the policy from being enforced. U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson granted the family a 10-day temporary restraining order on June 5.

So far, their efforts have paid off. Murnaghan says surgeons had no trouble resizing the donor lungs, which were from an adult, and transplanting them into Sarah.

No details have been released about the donor; a spokeperson for the hospital says it's respecting patient privacy.

Murnaghan said that while the family was "elated" that their daughter finally has the lungs she wanted, "our good news is another family's tragedy. That family made the decision to give Sarah the gift of life—and they are the true heroes today."

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