Sunday, December 28, 2014

Double-lung recipient, Sarah, going home

Sarah Murnaghan, the 10-year-old who underwent two lung transplants at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia this summer after a federal judge intervened, is going home today.

Murnaghan's mother, Janet, posted on her Facebook page on Monday: "WE ARE GOING HOME TOMORROW!!!!!!"

The girl's difficult journey with end-stage cycstic fibrosis triggered a national debate over organ transplants with a federal judge intervening in her parents' lawsuit challenging national transplant rules that put her at the end of the waiting list for adult lungs.

"Sarah and I have cried tears of joy today," Janet Murnaghan wrote on Facebook. "We entered CHOP on Feb. 19, more than six months ago. I never could have imagined the journey that lay in front of us."

The news Monday capped days of upbeat progress reports for the Newtown Square girl.  On Sunday, Sarah was taken off oxygen.  She still gets support from a machine that helps her to breathe.  But she's started to walk with a walker.

"My sister pointed out that today is our Mom's birthday - she died 11 years ago," Murnaghan posted Saturday on Facebook. "And today is the first day Sarah has not needed any supplemental oxygen. Miracles from heaven!!!"

The family said recovery is now focused on building Sarah's muscle strength to get her off a breathing tube. Sarah developed pneumonia that stemmed from the tube.

Sarah's first set of adult lungs failed after a June 12 transplant. A second set was transplanted three days later.

Her parents sued to change a national transplant policy that put her at the bottom of the adult list for patients 12 and older. After the federal judge intervened, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network - the private nonprofit group that manages U.S. organ allocation - added Sarah to the adult list.

The case raised questions among some health specialists and medical ethicists about how organ donation rules are developed and under what circumstances they might be disregarded.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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