Judge intervenes in transplant case

A federal judge said Wednesday that a 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl in need of a lung transplant must be added to the list of adults who need organs. The judge ordered Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to suspend rules that limit the organs available to children younger than 10.

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Congressional Republicans have been pressing Sebelius to intervene in Sarah Murnaghan's case since last week. Sebelius has declined, saying she would review the policies on transplants for children but that making a one-time exception for Murnaghan would deny a transplant to another young child.

Judge Michael Baylson on Wednesday ordered Sebelius to make an exception, at least temporarily. Murnaghan is more likely to get a transplant in time to save her life because of the judge's order.

"For us, this means that for the next 10 days, Sarah's placement in the queue for adult lungs will be based on the severity of her illness, and she will not be penalized for her age," parents Janet and Francis Murnaghan said in a statement, according to NBC News. "We are experiencing many emotions: relief, happiness, gratitude, and, for the first time in months: hope."

Members of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation last week urged Sebelius to help approve a transplant for Murnaghan.

"I respectfully request that you do everything you can to assist Sarah Murnaghan," Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) wrote to Sebelius in a May 28 letter. "CHOP [the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia] is aggressively treating Sarah in order to maintain her life and viability on the transplant list, but her time is running out.

"Your immediate attention to this issue is needed and appreciated."

Murnaghan lives in the district of Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), and Meehan has also pressed to change the policy that has so far prevented Sarah from getting a transplant.

—Pete Kasperowicz contributed to this report.