Lawsuit for 10-year-old's new lungs raises questions over transplant list

Print
Email
|

by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on June 12, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 12 at 7:27 PM

DALLAS –– A 10-year-old girl whose parents sued to make her eligible for an adult-sized lung transplant got those lungs Wednesday in Philadelphia.

Sarah Murnaghan suffers from severe cystic fibrosis and was given just weeks to live. She was matched with an adult donor.

But some are now questioning whether Sarah's second chance at life should have been someone else's.

"Who would have gotten that lung if she didn't have that lawsuit?" asked Pam Silvestri of the Southwest Transplant Alliance. "And is she going to survive? And if that person is not necessarily the age of a child, but somebody's child, and then will that family sue? And who will they sue?"

Silvestri wonders now if others will sue their way to the top of the organ transplant list. The parents of an 11-year-old with a similar situation to Sarah's has already filed suit.

The United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, was created to make sure a limited supply of organs is distributed as fairly as possible.

Body size can be a critical part of making the right match.

For years, adults were able to receive children's organs, but now children are given priority. Adult organs often don't fit inside a child's small body unless they are cut down. That process doesn't always work.

"The lungs could be injured in that medical procedure," Silvestri explained, "and then nobody gets them."

Experts are now re-evaluating existing transplant policies, though they say the only way to save more lives is to get more people signed up to be organ donors. To register to become an organ donor, click here.

Without question now, everyone hopes a new set of lungs enables Sarah Murnaghan to live a long and happy life.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

Print
Email
|