Pennsylvania Girl at Center of Transplant Debate Has Successful Lung Transplant Surgery

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The ten-year-old, critically ill Delaware County girl whose desperate search for a donor lung captured national attention has undergone a successful double lung transplant Wednesday.

The family of Sarah Murnaghan of Newtown Square, Pa., says the six-hour surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia went smoothly and Sarah did extremely well.

Sarah’s aunt, Sharon Ruddock, updated the media following the surgery Wednesday night.

WATCH: Family Gives Update Following Sarah’s Surgery

“The surgery was very, very successful. It was flawless,” said Ruddock.

There are two ways to make an adult lung fit into a child. The simplest way is to trim off pieces of the lung, reshaping it to fit the child. When the adult is much larger than the child, just a portion of the adult lung, called the lobe, is transplanted into the recipient.

The Murnaghan Family released a statement:

“We are thrilled to share that Sarah is out of surgery. Her doctors are very pleased with both her progress during the procedure and her prognosis for recovery.

Sarah went into surgery around 11 a.m. and was prepped and ready for the adult donor lungs when they arrived at the hospital. The procedure lasted about six hours and the family received regular updates throughout the day. The surgeons had no challenges resizing and transplanting the donor lungs – the surgery went smoothly and Sarah did extremely well.

She is in the process of getting settled in the ICU and now her recovery begins. We expect it will be a long road, but we’re not going for easy, we’re going for possible. And an organ donor has made this possible for her.

We are elated this day has come, but we also know our good news is another family’s tragedy. That family made the decision to give Sarah the gift of life –and they are the true heroes today.

We also want to thank Dr. Thomas Spray, who performed the surgery and Sarah’s team of doctors and dedicated nurses who were with Sarah every step of the way.

We also want to thank all the people who supported Sarah and our family through this process.”

News that a lung had been found, and that gravely ill Sarah would be undergoing transplant surgery, was posted late Wednesday morning on the family’s Facebook page (See Previous Story).

Sarah, who is suffering with end-stage cystic fibrosis, was placed into the adult donor line by order of a federal judge here in Philadelphia last week after he heard a plea from the family. She had been on the pediatric organ donor list for a lung for 18 months, but none became available.

“These are not pediatric lungs. I felt like, you know, I needed to fight and at the end of the day, like if I was going to lose her I wasn’t going to lose her sitting down,” said Sarah’s mother Janet Murnaghan.

The next few hours and days will be critical, especially when the respirator is pulled to see if Sarah can breathe on her own.

Doctors will also be looking for signs of infection or rejection.


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