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Pennsylvania girl who took on donor rules gets transplant

Patient's plight stirred national debate on organ donation

Transplant-Rules

Sarah Murnaghan, center, celebrates the 100th day of her stay in Children's Hospital of Philadelphia with her father, Fran, left, and mother, Janet, May 30.

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PHILADELPHIA — A 10-year-old girl whose efforts to qualify for an organ donation drew public debate over how donated lungs are allocated was getting a transplant today, her family said.

Sarah Murnaghan, who suffers from severe cystic fibrosis, was receiving the transplant today at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a family spokeswoman said.

Her health was deteriorating when a federal judge intervened on June 5, giving her a chance at the much larger list of organs from adult donors.

The case could bring change for other children, as another cystic fibrosis patient at the same hospital has also gone to court to be added to the adult donor list. The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network says 31 children under age 11 are on the waiting list for a lung transplant.

Murnaghan’s mother, Janet, said in a Facebook post that the family was “overwhelmed with emotions” and thanked all her supporters.

“Today is the start of Sarah’s new beginning and new life!” she wrote.

Last week, federal Judge Michael Baylson in Philadelphia ruled that Murnaghan of Newtown Square, Pa., and 11-year-old Javier Acosta of New York City should be eligible for adult lungs.

Their families challenged existing transplant policy that made children under 12 wait for pediatric lungs to become available or be offered lungs donated by adults after adolescents and adults on the waiting list had been considered. They said pediatric lungs are rarely donated.

It was not immediately clear where Murnaghan’s donation came from.

Critics warn there could be a downside to having judges intervene in the organ transplant system’s established procedures. Lung transplants are difficult procedures and some say child patients tend to have more trouble with them than adults.

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