Pa. girl to leave hospital after lung transplants

August 26, 2013 - 10:36 PM

Lung Transplant Pennsylvania

FILE - In this May 30, 2013 file photo provided by the Murnaghan family, Sarah Murnaghan, center, celebrates the 100th day of her stay in Children's Hospital of Philadelphia with her father, Fran, left, and mother, Janet. The 10-year-old suburban Philadelphia girl received a lung transplant there Wednesday, June 12, 2013, her family said. (AP Photo/Murnaghan Family, File)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl whose plight for a new pair of lungs spurred a national debate over organ transplants is going home Tuesday, her mother said Monday.

In a posting on her Facebook page Janet Murnaghan wrote "WE ARE GOING HOME TOMORROW!!!!!!"

Her daughter Sarah Murnaghan, who has end-stage cystic fibrosis, received two lung transplants this summer at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia after a federal judge intervened in her parents' lawsuit challenging national transplant rules that put her at the end of the waiting list for adult lungs.

"Sarah and I have cried tears of joy today," Janet Murnaghan wrote in another Facebook post Monday night. "We entered CHOP on Feb. 19, more than six months ago. I never could have imagined the journey that lay in front of us."

The news Monday capped days of upbeat progress reports for the Newtown Square girl.

On Sunday, Janet Murnaghan said her daughter was taken off oxygen, although she still gets support from a machine that helps her to breathe, and had started to walk with the aid of a walker, even venturing outside.

"My sister pointed out that today is our Mom's birthday — she died 11 years ago," Janet Murnaghan wrote Saturday on her Facebook page. "And today is the first day Sarah has not needed any supplemental oxygen. Miracles from heaven!!!"

Family spokeswoman Tracy Simon said Sarah's recovery is now focused on building her muscle strength so she no longer has to use a breathing tube. She said Sarah recovered from a case of pneumonia that stemmed from the tube.

Sarah's first set of adult lungs failed after a June 12 transplant. A second set was transplanted three days later.

Her parents sued to change a national transplant policy that put her at the bottom of the adult list for patients 12 and older. After the federal judge intervened, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network — the private nonprofit group that manages U.S. organ allocation — added Sarah to the adult list.

The case raised questions among some health specialists and medical ethicists about how organ donation rules are developed and under what circumstances they might be disregarded.