Government Agency Refuses Transplant for 10-Year Old Near Death


Murnaghan Photo of Sarah Murnaghan

Ten-year old Sarah Murnaghan cannot receive adult lungs for a transplant she needs to live. She is weeks from death. She is on the top of the list for pediatric lungs but there are rarely any available. She made the adult list but in order for her to receive adult lungs, every adult on the list must turn them down. The reason? She is not 12-years of age.

Twelve year olds can be placed at the top of the adult list based on need.

The government rules say that a child must be 12 to be placed at the top of the list to receive adult lungs.

There are far more adult lungs available than children’s lungs.

The lungs would work in her case but it would mean that an adult candidate would not get the lungs though a child 12 years and up could displace an adult based on need.

The cutoff at age 12 is arbitrary.

Sarah suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. She has been waiting for lungs for 18 months.

Every life is important but should age decide worth or should need?

“We are not asking for preference for Sarah, we are asking for equality,” Sarah’s mother, Janet Murnaghan, said in a press release. “We strongly believe Sarah should be triaged based on the severity of her illness, not her age.”

The family hopes to get the Organ Transplant and Procurement Network to change their mind. The family has a petition to sign at

The family has also appealed to Kathleen Sebelius of HHS. They are considering legal action in federal court.