Lung Transplant Recovery to Be ‘Hard and Long’ for 10-Year-Old Girl

The Murnaghan Family(PHILADELPHIA) — Recovery is going to be “hard and long” for the 10-year-old girl who received a lung transplant Wednesday after her family successfully fought a rule that had prevented her from qualifying for adult lungs, her mother wrote on Facebook.

Sarah Murnaghan of Newtown Square, Pa., was dying of cystic fibrosis when her family brought the Under 12 Rule, a little-known organ transplant policy, to national attention after arguing that it had been pushing Sarah to the bottom of the adult lung transplant waiting list.

The family won a court order to put Sarah on equal footing with adults on the transplant list and prompted an Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network policy change to allow for occasional exceptions to the Under 12 Rule.

“As you all know, Sarah was very, very sick going into transplant, therefore the road out is hard and long,” her mother, Janet Murnaghan, wrote on her Facebook page.  “We are focusing all of our attention on Sarah and as a result are silent.”

She then promised to update the page with “big, positive” news.

On Wednesday morning, Murnaghan wrote on Facebook that adult lungs had become available for Sarah, prompting more than 3,600 ‘likes’ from people following her story.

“Sarah got THE CALL,” Murnaghan wrote.  “She will be taken back to the OR in 30 minutes.”

The surgery began at 11 a.m. and lasted for six hours without complications, according to a statement from the family.  Sarah then entered the intensive care unit.

“We are thrilled to share that Sarah is out of surgery,” the family wrote Wednesday night.  “Her doctors are very pleased with both her progress during the procedure and her prognosis for recovery.”

Sarah’s lawyers convinced federal Judge Michael Baylson on June 5 that the Under 12 Rule was discriminatory, prompting a temporary restraining order against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to prevent her from enforcing it for Sarah.

Baylson’s ruling forced OPTN to create a second database entry for Sarah with a fake birthday to trick the organ transplant system into thinking she was 12.  The following day, another child in Sarah’s hospital, Javier Acosta, 11, won the same reprieve.

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network voted to keep the so-called Under 12 Rule, but it created a mechanism that would allow doctors to request exceptions for their pediatric patients.  A national lung review board would then approve these children for transplant consideration as adults case by case.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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