Republican lawmakers urged President Obama’s top health official on Tuesday to intercede on behalf of a 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl in desperate need of a lung transplant.
Pennsylvania Reps. Lou Barletta and Glenn Thompson implored Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to set aside a policy that bars patients under age 12 from obtaining an organ from an adult donor.
Pediatric organ donors are scarce, and it is unlikely that the girl, Sarah Murnaghan, who has cystic fibrosis and only weeks to live, would obtain one in time, according to the office of Sen. Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican.
Legislators from the Keystone State said the rule is arbitrary and getting in the way of a life-or-death situation, since doctors believe Sarah could live with lungs donated by an adult.
“It simply takes your signature,” Rep. Tom Price, Georgia Republican, said.
Mrs. Sebelius told lawmakers the situation is heart-wrenching, but signaled there may be no way to fix it because there are simply too few donors, she said.
She said she’s asked agency officials to review the allocation process, but there are 40 seriously ill Pennsylvanians over age 12 waiting for a transplant and three other children in Sarah’s situation at the same Philadelphia hospital where she is waiting.
“The worst of all worlds, in my mind, is to have some individual pick and choose who lives and who dies,” Mrs. Sebelius said. “I think you want a process where it’s guided by medical science and medical experts.