SEATTLE — A Philadelphia girl with cystic fibrosis desperately needs a lung transplant.
On Wednesday, a judge ruled in favor of the family, sparking renewed hope for the little girl and talk over transplant rules.
Local youngster Dhontay Chamroen-Moran was born with a bad kidney. Last week, the teenager finally received a transplant.
In the past 29 years, he is one of more than 700 kids leaving Seattle Children’s with a new lease on life.
“I am grateful to the hospital staff,’ said Moran.
But there are so many who don’t get to say that.
Sarah Murnaghan has been waiting for 18 months for a lung. The 10-year-old Philadephila girl could die within weeks if she doesn’t get one. Her biggest hurdle to a transplant is her age. Under a nationwide policy children under 12 years old are only eligible for a pediatric lung, which are hard to come by.
“Sarah has declined in the last two days but we are very excited with the news today that she will have the opportunity to be equally judged and have the opportunity to receive lungs,” said father Fran Murnaghan.
The Health and Human Services Secretary says the age limits are there for a good reason.
“It’s transplant surgeons and healthcare providers who design the protocol”said Kathleen Sebelius.
That dilemma is something Dr. Andre Dick deals with every day at Seattle Children’s.
“It’s a challenging thing to deal with limited resources and allocate those resources,” the doctor said.
Seattle Children’s does not perform lung transplants but the surgeon weighed in about Sarah’s case.
“In the end by just making that exception there are people that will be waiting and dying on the list because of that, you can change it and say there should be no age limits but the bottleneck is there are not enough donors,” said Dick.
Right now 40 kids are on the transplant waiting list at Seattle Children’s. Most of them in need of liver or kidney. The good thing about most organs is that there isn’t a strict age limit like when it comes to lungs. As Dhontay counts his blessings, he says he is thinking of Sarah, someone he doesn’t know but definitely understands.
“She deserves the lung more than I deserve a kidney because I can live on dialysis but she cannot live without a lung,” said Dhontay
Some lawmakers are on Sarah’s side, saying the age restrictions are outdated and that medical advancements safely allow young patients to handle adult lungs.