Pennsylvania girl gets lung transplant after judge's order

Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:12pm EDT

Related Topics

(Reuters) - A 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl with cystic fibrosis, who only became eligible for an adult organ transplant because of a judge's order, on Wednesday received a double-lung transplant from an adult donor, her family said.

Sarah Murnaghan, who had been kept off an adult organ transplant list due to an age restriction prior to the judge's ruling, was undergoing transplant surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said family spokeswoman Tracy Simon.

The girl's family, which lives in the Philadelphia suburb of Newtown Square, sued to prevent the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing a policy that prevents children under age 12 from getting adult lung transplants, even if they are extremely ill.

U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson granted the family a 10-day temporary restraining order on June 5.

The child received a pair of lungs from an adult donor, Simon said.

The child's mother, Janet Murnaghan, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday that "Sarah got THE CALL."

"Please pray for Sarah's donor, her HERO, who has given her the gift of life. Today their family has experienced a tremendous loss, may God grant them a peace that surpasses understanding.

"Today is the start of Sarah's new beginning and new life!" she wrote.

No details were released about the identity of the donor or circumstances of the organ donation. A spokeswoman for Children's Hospital said the hospital was not releasing any details in order to protect patient privacy.

The family spokeswoman said the girl went into surgery at around 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

"She should be out of surgery around 8 or 9 tonight," Simon said in an email.

Attorney Steve Harvey, who represented the girl in her battle to get on the adult donor list, confirmed that she had received the organ donation.

"I cannot comment on any legal aspects of the case, but I will say that I am very happy right now and I hope that the surgery is successful," he said in a statement.

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who has championed the girl's cause, said in a statement that he was deeply grateful to the unidentified organ donor and his or her family.

"Now that a suitable donor has been found, a prayer would help, too - a prayer Sarah's body accepts the new organ the way doctors believe it can," he said.

"The judge gave Sarah a chance to receive a new lung," he said. "Now the surgical team at CHOP is giving her a chance at life."

(Additional reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and David Gregorio)

FILED UNDER: