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Sarah Murnaghan, girl who fought organ donation guidelines, breathing completely on her own

 

Sarah Murnaghan, the young Pennsylvania girl who received new lungs after a long court battle with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is now breathing completely on her own.

Janet Murnaghan, Sarah’s mother, took to Facebook on Sunday to share the medical milestone with her followers.  She said that Sarah was admitted to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) on Friday, where doctors began the process of removing her breathing tube and closing up the tracheostomy – a surgically created opening through the neck into the trachea for the tube.

With the post, Janet Murnaghan included a picture of Sarah without her breathing tube.

“Everything has gone beautifully! We are still at CHOP, planning to go home tomorrow,” Murnaghan wrote on Facebook. “This is the best one year anniversary picture I could ever imagine sending to you all.”

Sarah made headlines last year when her family filed a lawsuit against the HHS to change the existing rules for organ donation. At the time, 10-year-old Sarah was dying of cystic fibrosis and was in desperate need of a lung transplant.  Under the original guidelines, children under the age of 12 had to wait for pediatric lungs to be available, while adult lungs could not be offered to children until they had been offered to adults and adolescents first.

The Murnaghans argued the rule keeping Sarah off the adult list was "discriminatory."

Originally, former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius refused to grant an exception to the rule. But on June 5, 2013, a federal court judge granted a temporary order that allowed Sarah to join an adult organ transplant list.  

Just seven days after the ruling, Sarah received a pair of adult lungs and underwent her first lung transplant.  However, she suffered from a complication called primary graft failure (PGF), which caused her health to deteriorate after the initial operation.

Fortunately, three days later on June 15, the family was told that a new pair of adult lungs were available for Sarah, and she underwent a second transplant which ultimately was a success.