Sarah Murnaghan is a 10-year-old girl who is fighting a terminal case of cystic fibrosis. Her condition has left her needing a lung transplant, without which she will likely die within weeks.
But government regulations have made it so that the lung that will save her life must be offered to “adults” on the waiting list first. The age to be considered as an adult on the donor list? 12. Two years is the divide which separates Sarah from being given a life-saving transplant, and dying from her disease.
Rep. Tom Price of Georgia has implored Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to intervene on behalf of the dying girl, saying “it only takes your signature”.
The family has also pleaded for their child’s life saying that it is well within Sebelius’ authority to mandate a variance which would save her life.
Sebelius responded today, saying that while the situation is “incredibly agonizing”, she will not step in. The situation as Sebelius coldly notes, is one in which “someone lives and someone dies”.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius rebuffed an appeal from Rep. Lou Barletta on behalf of a girl who needs a lung transplant but can’t get one because of a federal regulation that prevents her from qualifying for a transplant.
“Please, suspend the rules until we look at this policy,” Barletta, a Pennsylvania Republican, asked Sebelius during a House hearing Tuesday on behalf of Sarah Murnaghan, a 10-year-old girl who needs a lung transplant. She can’t qualify for an adult lung transplant until the age of 12, according to federal regulations, but Sebelius has the authority to waive that rule on her behalf. The pediatric lungs for which she currently qualifies aren’t available.
“I would suggest, sir, that, again, this is an incredibly agonizing situation where someone lives and someone dies,” Sebelius replied. “The medical evidence and the transplant doctors who are making the rule — and have had the rule in place since 2005 making a delineation between pediatric and adult lungs, because lungs are different that other organs — that it’s based on the survivability [chances].”
Here is the video…
Sarah’s family released a statement saying: “Essentially, Sarah has been left to die.”
Death panels do exist.