The 10-year-old child whose quest for a lung transplant touched off a national debate received a second pair of lungs, her parents revealed Friday. She continues to recover from that second surgery.
Sarah Murnaghan, who suffers from severe cystic fibrosis, had surgery for the first transplant June 12. Her mother, Janet Murnaghan, told reporters outside the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Friday that by that evening, it was obvious the lungs weren’t working.
“They called a code blue to her room. Those always make my heart stop when it’s not my child’s room,” said Murnaghan. “We ran down the the hallway and found out her lungs were going into a rapid decline.”
For Murnaghan, the decision to sign up for a new lung transplant was clear.
“We were told that there was a 50 percent chance that she would die in surgery,” Murnaghan said. “But we were told that there was a one-in-a-million chance that she would live on the current lungs she had.”
Until recently, a patient younger than 12, no matter how sick, would have to wait behind those who are older. Sarah had waited months for a transplant with no luck. Her family then petitioned doctors and successfully got a court intervention.
No legal fight this time
But when Sarah’s family went to sign her up for the donated second lungs, they faced no such hurdles.
“This time UNOS [United Network for Organ Sharing] did the listing,” Murnaghan said.
Sarah received the second pair of donor lungs three days after the first surgery.
Murnaghan said the failure of the first transplant was due to the poor state of the lung her daughter received.
“What happened was a donor issue,” she said. “When you have a child that has weeks to live, what you would accept is different than what you would accept when your kid is relatively healthy. And so what happened was, we were willing to accept marginal lungs in that moment because we knew we needed to survive.”
Standing outside the hospital, Murnaghan described her daughter as being in a much better place now, though Sarah is not yet able to speak or breathe independently.
“The doctor told us it’s a miracle that she’s here at this point,” Murnaghan said. “The hard stuff is behind us but there still is some hard stuff ahead.”
Sarah’s slated for another operation on Monday.