Ten year-old Sarah Murnaghan is dying. For the past three months, she has been at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia with end stage cystic fibrosis, a disease which causes great scarring of the lungs rendering the victim unable to breathe. End stage anything is just that—the last step in life before the great crossover.
Nothing will save her except a lung transplant. For that, she was on a children’s organ transplant list since she is under twelve years old. Since, thankfully, children die at a much slower rate than adults, harvested organs are very hard to obtain. Things weren’t looking good for Sarah.
They look a little better now. Not great, but better. There was no experimental drug developed to buy Sarah time until a donor could be found, but her family filed suit to move their daughter onto an adult transplant list. Judge Michael Baylson heard the case and suspended her transplant age restriction for 10 days putting her on adult transplant list until June 16. This opens up a very nasty can of worms.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius absolutely did the right thing and kept the government out of the decision. I don’t want to sound cruel and that a part of me is not in pain for Sarah, but transplant protocols are in place for a reason. They give the donated organs the best chance to keep a patient alive for as long a period as possible. Adult lungs do not work that well in pediatric patients. Typically, a piece of lung is used instead of a whole lung; that makes it makes it a more difficult procedure and less likely to work. That is a fact.
People want the government out of their healthcare; well, Secretary Sebelius did just that. She’s not a healthcare professional by any stretch of the imagination, and she deferred to said professionals to make the best medical decision possible. Judge Baylson, who decided to go rogue, scrapped decades of transplant protocols in seconds.
I can already smell the plethora of lawsuits. The ambulance-chaser-attorney types are buying new running shoes. I’m not saying that all lawyers are opportunists, but there is a certain sector of the field that borders on shameless.
Organ transplants are, by nature, a dirty business. Not in the back-alley-mob-surgery way, but, for every person who gets an organ transplant, someone does not and will die. For every chance of life given, a death blow is dealt. Heaven forbid that I, or any one in my family, ever wind up on a transplant list—I would hope and pray for the best and accept any fate given to me. I understand that people will do anything to save their child, but this was a step too far. This is what happens in a society that hands out trophies for participating and everybody wins. Not everybody can win all of the time. It’s sad, but true. It is, however, what it is. Peace.
Jay Sochoka, R.Ph. is praying for Sarah.