Sarah Murnaghan May Get Lung Transplant

Organ transplant

A story I reported at the end of May told the tragic story of Sarah Murnaghan.  Then 10 year old Pennsylvania girl has Cystic Fibrosis, and needs a lung transplant soon if he is to live.  She now has a chance, and may receive a donated organ.

Federal law stipulates that a child under the age of 12, may only receive donated organs from another child.  This greatly limits the opportunity for Sarah to receive a transplant in time to save her life.

President Obama and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, director of the Department of Health and Human Services have decided not to intervene.

Wednesday, Judge Michael Baylson scheduled a preliminary injunction for June 14th.  He made his decision after hearing oral arguments in a federal lawsuit filed by Sarah’s parents.

He ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to remove the “under 12” requirement in Sarah’s case.  He said that if a case similar to Sarah’s was presented before him, he would make the same decision.

In a statement issued late Wednesday afternoon, the family said, “We are experiencing many emotions: relief, happiness, gratitude and, for the first time in months: hope.”

It goes on to say, “We cannot say enough about the global outreach and support we’ve received on behalf of Sarah—people of all ages and walks of life have reached out to us, prayed for us, and asked how they could help.”

The family urged everyone to be an organ donor and give the ‘gift of life.’

Sarah’s family filed the federal lawsuit based on the premise that age was a “discriminatory” factor.

I am thrilled that the possibility exists that Sarah may receive a lung transplant that would prolong her life.  But I am angry at the politicization of such a tragic situation.

Some members of Congress, mostly Republicans have been pressing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to use her (undefined) discretion and place Sarah on the adult list of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

Representative Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania yesterday pushed Sebelius directly, telling her, “I’m begging you, Sarah has three to five weeks to live. Time is running out.”

Legal authorities stated that if Sebelius were to intervene, it would be an egregious use of her authority.  It is immoral and unethical to use this sad situation and attempt to place it in a position of political advantage.  In every sense of the word, they are attempting to make Sebelius the villain in this matter.  And, not surprisingly, they are desperately searching for a way to tie it to “Obamacare” and what they say are its failed policies.

The fact is that those who are pressing Sebelius and the HHS to intervene, are suggesting that she place herself in the role of making life-or-death decisions in individual cases.

There is a distinct reason for the “under 12” law.  Transplants of adult lungs into children’s chest cavities do not have a satisfactory success rate.  If that situation has changed, as it has with liver and kidney transplants, than the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network should make that decision, and petition changes to the present laws.

Complaints about Sebelius  are often legitimate, and need to be investigated.  However, her decision in this situation is simply the right thing to do.

Thanks to a Pennsylvania judge, Sarah Murnaghan may get a lung transplant.  The world will be watching and hoping that it comes in a timely fashion, and that it is successful.

James Turnage

The Guardian Express


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