A technicality in the lung donor rules has left a seriously ill 10-year-old child in a fight for her life. Sarah Murnaghan is desperately ill and has been living at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia with her family since February. Without a lung transplant, she isn’t expected to live much longer.
Therefore, she’s at the top of the waiting list for a child’s lung transplant. The trouble is, even though she can also medically accept a lung modified from an adult donor, she’s at the very bottom of that list.
Every candidate age 12 or older on the lung transplant list is ahead of her, even patients that aren’t urgently ill, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) rules.
Janet Murnaghan told CNN on Monday that she learned only two weeks ago that Sarah was so far down the line for the adult lungs. That’s after Sarah has already waited a year and a half for a new lung.
“I was shocked,” she said.
What’s especially worrisome is that Sarah might now only have weeks to live without a transplant. With time running out, there’s certainly no guarantee that a child’s lungs will become available soon enough to save her life.
Sarah Murnaghan is currently on a ventilator at Children’s Hospital.
It’s within the rules for transplant centers to consider direct appeals for exceptions, and the Murnaghan family had reportedly started making such appeals on Friday.
They have also started an online petition to ask OPTN to give Sarah the same place in line she would have if she were 12 instead of 10. You can read the whole petition at Change.org (and sign it too) but here’s an excerpt:
“[S]she has only a week or two before she will lose her battle. If she were two years older, she would have a high probability of receiving lungs in time…”
Over 40,000 people have already signed to request that OTPN look at their rules again. It doesn’t seem fair to many that a loophole in the writing of the lung donor rules should block a 10-year-old’s chances for a life-saving transplant.
[Sarah Murnaghan photo by Janet Murnaghan via Facebook]