Southeastern PA

Sarah Murnaghan's lung transplant a success

Newtown Square girl receives adult lungs

Girl's lung transplant a success

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - A Delaware County girl is recovering after getting what could be a life-saving double lung transplant on Wednesday.

The 10-year-old's fight for new lungs captured the hearts of people around the country, and it sparked a big debate about how organs are allocated.

The family of Sarah Murnaghan says the six hour surgery at CHOP went very well.

"Right now I feel like we have a chance," said Janet Murnaghan. "We have hope."

Sarah's mother says they got the call around 10:30 Tuesday night. Her little girl suffers from severe cystic fibrosis, and had been in a medically induced coma since Saturday. Wednesday Sarah received a double lung transplant, but not from another child.

"It is somebody much bigger than Sarah," described Janet. "They are using a section, using the lobes of both lungs to be a complete lung for Sarah."

Last week, a federal judge intervened, giving Sarah a chance at a much larger list of organs from adult donors. It's a move that's sparked a national debate about how organs are allocated.

"Each of the different organs are allocated differently," explained Dr. Michael Moritz, chief of transplant surgery at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

He says more than 100,000 people in the U.S. are on organ waiting lists, and there could be a downside to judges getting involved in the system's established procedures.

"If people start suing because they don't like their place in line, that's a lot of lawsuits," added Dr. Moritz. "And then you don't have a system, you have chaos."

Right now, existing lung transplant policy makes kids 12 and under wait for pediatric lungs. Dr. Moritz agrees the system should be looked at.

"Yes, they should be addressed," he said. "They just shouldn't be addressed for one person, they should be addressed for all the kids, because all the kids are equally deserving and that's the fair thing to do."

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey has been at the center of Sarah's controversy, championing for her. He says work needs to continue on the flawed pediatric organ donation policies.

"This is a new beginning for Sarah," Janet shared. "I know it's going to be hard, we have a lot to overcome."

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