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Parents of ill Philly-area girl challenge lung donor rule they say is blocking transplant

by Jake Kelly

The parents of a 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl who has been waiting for a lung transplant for a year and a half are calling for a change in the policy governing organ transplants that they say has prevented their increasingly sick daughter from getting life-saving surgery.  

Sarah Murnaghan of Newtown Square has end-stage cystic fibrosis and has been unable to leave Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for three months, needing a ventilator to breathe, according to an online petition that had drawn more than 17,000 supporters by Monday. Her mother, Janet, said her daughter has only a matter of weeks to live. 

Sarah has been awaiting a transplant from a pediatric donor and is also eligible for a lung from an adult donor. Under a policy instituted in 2005, organ allocation policies are supposed to be based on severity of illness rather than the amount of time on the waiting list, but that approach only applies to patients over the age of 12. Sarah is a top priority on the pediatric list, but officials say there are far fewer pediatric donors due to improved treatment.