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Judge Issues Restraining Order Allowing 10-Year-Old Pa. Girl To Be Temporarily Added To Adult Lung Transplant List

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) says a judge has ruled to allow 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan and potentially other children to be temporarily added to the adult list for a lung transplant.

Sarah’s family filed a lawsuit Wednesday to change organ-donation rules for children saying the existing rules discriminate against children under the age of 12 by giving older candidates priority for donated adult lungs. They filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction in Philadelphia federal court to prevent the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from enforcing a policy that prevents children under 12 from getting the adult lung transplants they need to save their lives.

Toomey says effective immediately, Judge Michael Baylson, senior federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, granted a temporary restraining order and told the Secretary of HHS to direct the transplant network to cease application of the “Under 12 Rule” as it applies to Sarah.  If there is another child in the judicial district in Sarah’s circumstance, the judge would consider a temporary restraining order if the case is presented in court.  The judge set a preliminary injunction hearing for June 14.

Sarah’s father and aunt reacted outside of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“We’re  ecstatic,” said Fran Murnaghan.

“We were so happy,” said Sharon Ruddock, Sarah’s aunt.  “I think this will do it for her. I think this will get her lungs. We’re stunned. We haven’t had good news. We’ve had a lot of rejections over the last few weeks, a lot of no, no, no and now we got a yes.”

“We have very good hope there in the next few days or next week that something can happen,” said Murnaghan.

The organ transplant network will hold an emergency review meeting on Monday.

Toomey made the following statement regarding today’s court ruling:

“Finally, we have some positive news for Sarah and her family,” said Sen. Toomey.  “I applaud today’s ruling and am grateful to Judge Baylson for quickly issuing his decision on such an important matter.  Now Sarah has a chance for a lung transplant, and I plan to keep fighting for her and others who deserve to be eligible. As I’ve said all along, Secretary Sebelius should use her authorities to make medical need and suitability, rather than age, be the primary criteria in determining how organ donations are prioritized.  I hope this court ruling will encourage her to make this important policy change.”

On Tuesday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declined to intervene.

Sarah’s family without new lungs, she has only two to three weeks to live.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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