A federal judge on Wednesday ordered HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to allow 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan to be moved to the adult lung transplant list, giving her a better chance of receiving a potentially life-saving transplant.
The quick and unusual ruling, made after a hastily scheduled emergency hearing, follows a campaign by the family and some members of Congress to pressure the Obama administration to change a federal policy that puts children under age 12 at the bottom of the list of those who can receive donated adult lungs.
Murnaghan has cystic fibrosis and her doctors have said she may only live a few weeks without the transplant. She has been on the waiting list for pediatric donors for 18 months, but they are more rare and her condition is worsening. There’s no guarantee that even with the judge’s ruling, a suitable donor will become available in time, but her odds would be better.
The case played out amid growing controversy with Sebelius in the spotlight. Several right-wing blogs and commentators depicted her as a one-woman “death panel.” The child’s mother said Sebelius was choosing to let children die.