PHILADELPHIA — A 10-year-old girl whose efforts to qualify for an organ donation drew public debate over how organs are allocated was getting a double-lung transplant Wednesday after a match with an adult donor was made.
Sarah Murnaghan, who suffers from severe cystic fibrosis, was receiving her new lungs Wednesday at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, family spokeswoman Maureen Garrity said. Murnaghan’s relatives were “beyond excited” about the development but were “keeping in mind that someone had to lose a family member and they’re very aware of that and very appreciative,” Garrity said.
No other details about the donor are known, including whether they came through the regular donor system or through public appeals.
Murnaghan’s health was deteriorating when a judge intervened last week, giving her a chance at the much larger list of organs from adult donors.
“Some people would look at this and say it’s evidence that if you get a PR campaign, a congressman and federal judge to pay attention, you’re going to have far greater access to a transplant, but I don’t think that’s true,” said ethicist Arthur Caplan of the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York of the Murnaghans’ public stance.
The Newtown Square, family received word about the donor lungs Tuesday night, Garrity said. The surgery began just after 11:30 a.m. Wednesday and was expected to take at least six hours, she said.
Murnaghan’s family and the family of another cystic fibrosis patient at the same hospital challenged existing policy that made children under 12 wait for pediatric lungs to become available or be offered lungs donated by adults only after adolescents and adults on the waiting list had been considered.