PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) - The U.S. Secretary of Health and
Human Services says she doesn't want to intervene in transplant
decisions about a dying Pennsylvania girl when other children are just
Kathleen Sebelius says medical experts should make those decisions.
SIGN: Petition For Sarah
But relatives of 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan say they want the policy
changed for all children awaiting a lung transplant, not just Sarah.
Sarah's aunt Sharon Ruddock says older children should be eligible for adult lungs because so few pediatric lungs are available.
She says that would add just 20 children to the 1,600 people on the adult waiting list.
Sebelius has called for a review of transplant policies, but the Murnaghans says Sarah doesn't have time for that.
The Newtown Square girl has been hospitalized for three months with end-stage cystic fibrosis.
Sarah is not giving up hope. She wants to be a singer, but needs a
lung transplant to live. Her parents have been with her constantly while
she waits at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
"She worries that she's dying, because she's not - she's a smart kid.
And she says to me, 'Mommy, will I wake up tomorrow morning?'" said
Organ donation rules require adult lungs to be offered first to people over the age of 12. Sarah's parents say that's not fair.
"Rules are meant to be broken. My child is not a statistic. She's a person," said Janet.
Sarah's parents have launched a public relations campaign to try to
get the rules changed and an online petition in support of Sarah has
been created with thousands of supporters.
Congressman Patrick Meehan stepped in and sent a letter to the
Secretary of Health and Human Services requesting that she address the
tragic unfairness and act to give Sarah a chance at life.
"It tugs at my heart. It's not a perfect system. There is no perfect
system. It's the best we can do right now," said Dr. Stuart Sweet, who
is a board member of the United Network of Organ Sharing.
The organization issued a statement that says the rules can't be changed for individual cases.
"If I change the system to give Sarah an advantage, there's another
patient, very likely an adolescent, who then gets a disadvantage," said
Sarah's been on the waiting list for 18 months. Her options are limited, but she's not giving up hope.
"I'm not going for easy. I'm just going for possible," said Sarah.