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Medical Ethics Expert Decries Politicking In Girl’s Lung Transplant Case

(Sarah Murnaghan, with her mother.  Credit: CBS3)

(Sarah Murnaghan, with her mother. Credit: CBS3)

Mark Abrams Mark Abrams
Mark Abrams is a versatile part of the KYW Newsradio family, serving...
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By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A nationally recognized medical ethicist says a federal judge’s move placing a child awaiting a lung transplant at Children’s Hospital onto the adult-transplant list raises some concerns.

Arthur Caplan, a former University of Pennsylvania professor and now director of the division of medical ethics at New York University, says the extensive intervention by outsiders on behalf of ten-year-old Sarah Murnaghan, the little girl suffering with end-stage cystic fibrosis, is troubling.

“When a judge or a congressman or a bureaucrat says ‘I’m going to add you’ or ‘I don’t like the rules,’ this comes at a price — meaning we’re shifting away from letting doctors and transplant people use medical facts to decide what’s best,” Caplan tells KYW Newsradio.

Caplan says he understands the family’s desperate efforts to save Sarah’s life.  But, he notes, facts can get lost in the emotional struggle.

One of those facts, he says, involves statistics showing children receiving adult lungs or even pieces of the organ have a poor survival rate after surgery.

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