Thursday, May 30, 2013

10-Year-Old Needs Lung

In Philadelphia, there is a 10-year-old girl who has been waiting for 18 months for a lung due to some regulations in regards to the donor list. She will die soon if she does not get a transplant.

To quote the entire article (it isn't really long):

A Philadelphia-area family's fight over the rules that govern lung transplants is getting national attention.
Ten-year-old Sarah Murnaghan, of Newtown Square, is dying of cystic fibrosis at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
She needs a lung transplant to survive, but Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network policies say children under age 12 should receive lungs from another child, not an adult. That means it will take longer for lungs to be available to Sarah, who has been on the transplant list for 18 months.
The case has garnered attention in the Philadelphia region and across the country, and spurred discussion about the lung-transplant regulations.
Her family has started a petition on, asking supporters to urge the Department of Health and Human Services to change the regulations.
"This policy needs to change," the petition says. "The OPTN/UNOS Lung Review Board, a national group of transplant physicians and surgeons, can make an exceptional ruling for Sarah. And they can recommend new policies to OPTN."
As of this morning, more than 72,000 people had signed the petition. The OPTN said in a statement this week it can't change its rules based on one patient.
National news outlets from CNN to Fox News have picked up on the story, and some doctors not involved in Sarah's case say the policy should change.
Dr. Devang Doshi, a pediatric lung specialist at Beaumont Children's Hospital in Michigan, told ABC News that such "hurdles and obstacles" lead him to "get frustrated with the system."
He said: "It's a very disheartening thing to hear and read about because you've got a child in desperate need of a transplant to survive ... and people less qualified in terms of severity are able to get that organ instead of this child because of what's in place."
Art Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University's Langone Medical Center, told the television station that children should be given priority over adults, because kids can have more healthy years with the new lungs.
Caplan elaborated to NBC News that children should get priority in part because many adult transplant patients need new lungs because of their own actions, like smoking, while children are "non-culpable." 
"I think we should go back and revisit the system and I think we should give more weight to kids," Caplan told NBC.
Sarah's family has said she has only a few weeks to live and needs a ventilator to breathe.

I'm in complete agreement that the guidelines need to be revisited. They seem awfully unfair to children in need of lungs. There are simply not many children donors. Some parents who lose children see donating the body as an honorable thing so that other parents don't have to experience the same loss. But, other parents see it very differently. Their child had been taken from them and they can't bear the thought of their child being cut up. Both of these ideas are natural. Neither set of parents should feel ashamed of their feelings.

On the other hand, while I think "need" is a good qualifier, I think that "age" and "personal culpability" could be a slippery slope. So, is a 40-year-old life worth less than a 10-year-old life simply due to age? Is a skinny person more valuable than a fat person simply because they don't overeat? Yes, age and culpability can and should be considered as factors, but they can't be the final deal-maker or breaker. A skinny, young life is not by default more valuable than a fat, old life.

Life is life and God loves us all. Each and every life has unimaginable dignity and value. I don't envy the people who have to make these decisions about organ transplants. Their job must be horrible.

Sick kids shouldn't die because parents don't want to donate their dead kid's organs. From what I've seen, there is no reason why she can't get an adult lung. At the very least, I'd think an adult lung would be better than no lung at all. If she's within weeks of death's door, by all means, change the regulations and get her a lung now.

Sign the petition here:

Update again


  1. Very disheartening to learn of such news , I pray that everything turns out well for this precious little girl :)#ChangeTheRegulations

    1. I did post an update.

      They are reviewing the regulations. Unfortunately, however, it sounds like the regulations will not be changed in time to save this little girl. I hope that the news is wrong on that account. But if the news isn't wrong, I pray that the regulations will be changed in time to save someone else's child.

  2. Adult lung transplants are done on the basis of need and viability. Sarah's surgeon has already determined she is viable, meaning he has had great success with partial lobe lung transplants. Sarah would go to the top of the list based on need as she only has a few weeks to live. She should get one fo the next available matching lungs. As it stands, although she is on the adult list, EVERY ADULT ON THAT LIST, no matter how urgent their need, no matter how much time they have before they get to Sarah's condition, has to refuse the lung in order for Sarah to receive it. The parents are asking for their child's civil rights to be honored, that their child not be discriminated against on the basis of age, and I hope the judge can extend his order for her and other children under ten. The current rules are virtual death sentences for any child needing a transplant under the age of 12.

    1. I agree and thank you for the clarification.


What do you think? I want to know.