Girl who got new lungs in has more surgery

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A 10-year-old girl who had two adult-lung transplants after her parents sued to change national rules regarding organ donations underwent surgery Tuesday to repair her diaphragm.

The operation performed at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is expected to allow Sarah Murnaghan to breathe on her own. Sarah has needed a breathing tube since the successful June 15 transplant because she suffered a partial paralysis of her diaphragm during that procedure.

“She is out of surgery, not awake yet, but Drs. say it went well,” her mother, Janet Murnaghan, wrote on her Facebook page Tuesday.

Sarah has been hospitalized for months with end-stage cystic fibrosis while awaiting two new lungs. The girl from Newtown Square, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, was a top candidate for organs from a child donor but none was available, and a national transplant policy put her at the bottom of the adult list — behind patients who were less critically ill.

Her parents then sued to change the policy. A federal judge intervened and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network — the private nonprofit group that manages U.S. organ allocation — added Sarah to the adult list, which is for patients 12 and older.

The action spurred a national debate and raised questions among some health experts and medical ethicists. The Murnaghans were joined in their lawsuit by the family of 11-year-old Javier Acosta of New York City, who also was placed on the adult list.

Acosta also has cystic fibrosis, a disease that causes sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, leading to life-threatening infections and other problems. Lung transplants aren’t a cure but can buy time; the typical life expectancy for cystic fibrosis patients is 37 years and growing, thanks to medical advances.

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