National

Jun 12, 2013 8:13 PM by Associated Press

UPDATE: PA girl out of surgery after receiving lung transplant

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - 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, a family spokeswoman 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.

During double-lung transplants, surgeons must open up the patient's chest. Complications can include rejection of the new lungs and infection.

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 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.

Critics warned there could be a downside to having judges intervene in the organ transplant system's established procedures. Lung transplants are difficult procedures, and some experts say child patients tend to have more trouble with them than adults do.

No other details about the donor lungs are known, including whether they came through the regular donor system or through public appeals.

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.

The Murnaghan family received word about the donor lungs Tuesday night, Garrity said. The surgery began just after 11:30 a.m. Wednesday and had been expected to take at least six hours, she said.

Sarah's mother, Janet Murnaghan, said in a Facebook post that the family was "overwhelmed with emotions" and thanked all her supporters. She said the donor's family "has experienced a tremendous loss, may God grant them a peace that surpasses understanding."

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