PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A 10-year-old girl in a Philadelphia hospital is waiting for a donor lung to save her life, and her parents are doing everything they can to get that lung.
The girl’s parents are asking that the rules be changed to allow their daughter to get on the adult waiting list for a donor lung. Right now, a child has to be 12 years old.
On Tuesday, United States Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, spoke about her decision not to intervene in the girl’s case.
Like most 10-year-olds, Sarah Murnaghan is proud of her new smile.
“I lost two teeth,” she says.
But unlike most other young girls, Sarah has cystic fibrosis and desperately needs a lung transplant.
Sec. Sebelius tried to explain to Georgia Rep. Tom Price her decision not to intervene.
U.S. Rep. Price: “Madam Secretary, I would urge you, this week, to allow that lung transplant to move forward.”
Sec. Sebelius: “Well, Dr. Price, I appreciate your input. First, as a mother and a grandmother, I can’t imagine anything more agonizing than what the Murnaghans are going through. And I’ve talked to Janet Murnaghan, the mother of Sarah, about this case. What I have also done is look very carefully at the history of the rules around lung transplanting.”
Rep. Price: “With all due respect Madam Secretary… I’m going to reclaim my time. It simply takes your signature, it simply takes your signature. A study I know you have ordered, and I appreciate that. But a study will take over a year – this young lady will be dead.”
Sec. Sebelius later said the rules are in place so that no one individual can pick and choose who lives and who dies.
“Unfortunately, there are about 40 very seriously ill Pennsylvanians over age of 12 also waiting for a lung transplant, and three other children in the Philadelphia hospital at the same acuity rate as Sarah waiting for a lung transplant,” said Sec. Sebelius.
Meanwhile, Sarah and her family must rely on prayers.
Reporter: “Do you know people are praying for you?”
Reporter: “What do you think about that?”
Sarah: “Thank you for saying prayers.”
Sec. Sebelius has ordered a review of the policy to determine whether changes need to be made for the future, but that will likely take months or years.