Lawmakers ask Secretary Sebilus to step in on behalf of 10-year-old in need of lung transplant

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Published: Jun 03 2013 08:02:27 PM EDT
Sarah Murnaghan

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Congressman Pat Meehan (R-PA) join the fight to help a young girl get a life-saving lung transplant.

The two men wrote a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, today to help 10-year-old, Sarah Murnaghan, get a new lung.

Sarah Murnaghan of Newtown Square, PA has had Cystic Fibrosis since she was born. She is fighting for her life at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as she awaits a lung transplant. Her doctors believe she only has a few weeks to live. Due to this, Toomey and Meehan ask that Sebelius follows the policy regarding organ transplants for those with the greatest medical need.

The Department of Health and Human Services does mandate that organ allocation policies must be based on medical need rather than waiting time or other considerations. While Sarah's need is acute, since she is 10 and not 12, she cannot be on the list to receive an adult organ. However, pediatric organ donors are in short supply, and there is little chance that Sarah will receive a pediatric lung in time to survive.

The two men are not asking for an exemption for Sarah, but rather for the Secretary to follow the rules available to her now. Toomey and Meehan state in the letter that Sebelius has two options specificed in the exisiting policy governing the organ transplant network: she can either set aside the under-12 policy on an emergency basis, or she can direct the organ donor network to conduct a pilot program to add to the research about the suitability of adult organs transplanted into children.

The two lawmakers state in the letter that they hope to meet with the Secretary soon to discuss the urgent matter since they do not have much time to wait.