PHILADELPHIA — A 10-year-old girl whose efforts to qualify for an organ donation spurred public debate over how organs are allocated underwent a successful double-lung transplant on Wednesday, the girl’s family said.
Sarah Murnaghan, who suffers from severe cystic fibrosis, received new lungs from an adult donor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, spokeswoman Tracy Simon said.
The Murnaghan family said it was “thrilled” to share the news that Sarah was out of surgery.
“Her doctors are very pleased with both her progress during the procedure and her prognosis for recovery,” the family said in a statement.
Sarah went into surgery around 11 a.m. Wednesday, and the procedure lasted about six hours, her family said.
“The surgeons had no challenges resizing and transplanting the donor lungs — the surgery went smoothly, and Sarah did extremely well,” it said. “She is in the process of getting settled in the ICU and now her recovery begins.”
Sarah’s family and the family of another cystic fibrosis patient at the same hospital challenged transplant policy that made children under 12 wait for pediatric lungs to become available or be offered lungs donated by adults only after adolescents and adults on the waiting list had been considered. They said pediatric lungs are rarely donated.
Sarah’s aunt, Sharon Ruddock, said the donor lungs came in through normal channels as a result of being on the adult donor list.
“It was a direct result of the ruling that allowed her to be put on the adult list,” Ruddock said.
No other details about the donor lungs are known.
Sarah’s health was deteriorating when a judge intervened in her case last week, giving her a chance at the much larger list of organs from adult donors. U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson ruled June 5 that Sarah and 11-year-old Javier Acosta, of New York City, should be eligible for adult lungs.
Sarah’s relatives, who are from Newtown Square, just west of Philadelphia, were “beyond excited” about her new lungs but were “keeping in mind that someone had to lose a family member and they’re very aware of that and very appreciative,” family spokeswoman Maureen Garrity said earlier Wednesday.