Get PJ Media on your Apple

The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

June 5, 2013 - 2:09 pm

As the Department of Health and Human Services refused to give in to lawmakers’ demands to allow a 10-year-old girl to receive a life-saving transplant, a judge granted an emergency motion today for a temporary restraining order to prevent HHS from enforcing a policy that prevents children under 12 from getting adult lung transplants.

Sarah Murnaghan, 10, has cystic fibrosis and is fighting for her life at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia with an estimate that she may have only a few weeks to live.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to use her authority to allow for Sarah and other children under the age of 12 to become eligible for adult organs.

“We believe the regulations allow for you to direct OPTN (Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network) to conduct an experimental variance under Section 121.8(g). In Dr. John Roberts’s response to your request for additional information regarding organ donation policy, he indicated that medical literature suggests that such pediatric lung transplants have comparable outcomes but small sample sizes. An experimental variance in Sarah’s case could help better inform the medical community’s understanding of how these transplants work in pediatric settings,” the lawmakers pleaded with Sebelius on Monday. “We do not have much time to wait.”

At an HHS oversight hearing yesterday, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a doctor, asked Sebelius about the “arbitrary rule” keeping the girl from receiving a transplant.

“First, as a mother and a grandmother I can’t imagine anything more agonizing than what the Murnaghans are going through, and I talked to Janet Murnaghan, the mother of Sarah, about this case. What I have also done is look very carefully at the history of the rules around lung transplant and organ transplant–” Sebelius said before Price interjected: “It simply takes your signature. It simply takes your signature.”

“A study I know you have — have ordered and I appreciate that, but a study will take over a year,” Price added. “This young lady will be dead.”

“Unfortunately, there are about 40 very seriously ill Pennsylvanians over the age of 12 also waiting for a lung transplant, and three other children in the Philadelphia at the same acuity rate as Sarah waiting for a lung transplant,” Sebelius said. “The decisions of the OPTN, the transplant committee, which is not bureaucrats, it’s transplant surgeons and health care providers who design the protocol, are based on their best medical judgment of the most appropriate way to decide allocation in an impossibly difficult situation… I would suggest that the rules that are in place and reviewed on a regular basis are there because the worst of all worlds in my mind is to have some individual pick and choose who lives and who dies.”

Today 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 Sebelius to direct the transplant network to cease application of the under-12 rule as it applies to Sarah.

Baylson will also consider granting the same judicial protection to any other children with similar circumstances in the judicial district who present their case to the court.

The judge set a preliminary injunction hearing for June 14. The organ transplant network will hold an emergency review meeting on Monday.

“Finally, we have some positive news for Sarah and her family,” said 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,” the senator added. “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.”

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Thank God.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, it is not. The rule was put in back in 2004. It was determined that under-12's were simply too small to accept an adult lung. That is no longer true with modern medicine. That is why the judge issued the injunction when offered the proper evidence. It does not take a year, to determine what the doctors already know.

This does not move her to the front of the line, either. it just puts her on the list behind a bunch of people. She will likely yet die, but just not because she wasn't on the list. There still needs to be a blood-match and so forth.

This was an easy decision when faced with the simple evidence. Sebellius is just a nasty piece of work. Besides, why is the head of HHS not a doctor? It should be a requirement for the position.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
the reason for the age rule is the donor/recipient size discrepancy. she remains questionable for an adult lung. if she gets one, someone else better suited does not. transplantation is a zero sum game. someone dies to donate the organ. someone might live if given a good match. give her a public relations match and someone else dies now and she will quite possibly be a failed transplant.

i've harvested organs and taken care of recipients. this is a bad ruling.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (19)
All Comments   (19)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
This is exactly the way the process is supposed to work constitutionally. Beyond the courts ruling, it should be seen as a directive to the congress to amend the controlling legislation with language allowing for the 'rule' to be administratively amended upon consensus science from time to time. Future similar problems solved. Otherwise, the department would become consumed with special exemption requests which is NO way to run the federal governments legislated programs.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
She should be charged with attempted murder. The HHS in our state was supposedly helping my son with his drug addiction. When he was released, he was given a bottle of Hydrocodone for stomach pains. It was just packed in with his stuff; I wasn't even notified it was in there. To be clear, HHS NEBRASKA gave my son a controlled substance while in a substance abuse program.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank God.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My older son would have been 43 years old later this year. But he died at 11 years old while we were waiting for a liver transplant. They were brand new then, and then it would have been a high risk operation because the mortality rate was over 50%. I have some experience with the system, albeit decades ago.

From my point of view, it looks like all that has been done is that a purely arbitrary bureaucratic rule that no longer applies due to advances in medicine has been over-ridden. What was not possible in 2004, now is possible.

Yes, transplants are a zero-sum game. This ruling means that Sarah Murnaghan will be evaluated along with others for all the factors that are used to predict the prognosis for a transplant. It may be that she will be a better match, and yes someone else will miss out on the transplant and die. Or it may be that with the limited supply of donor lungs, there will be no appropriate match for her and she will die, and someone else will live. Or it may be that those most in need of a transplant will not be a match for the donor lungs and they will all die.

The point being that what will determine if she lives or dies, and if the others on the waiting list live or die should be the best available medical technology and judgment and not the decision of a bureaucrat whose devotion is to personal arbitrary power and the image of her heel eternally grinding into someone's face.

The goal of Obama, the Left, HHS, and the Nosferatu-clone Sibelius is to control who lives and who dies for their own benefit and sadistic pleasure.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well this is good news for the photogenic young girl who had two politicians in her corner. Please remember that there are 40 adults and 3 other children that are also in the running for a lung. When you have one lung and 43 candidates is it better for the medical professionals to decide who the recipient will be based on the various probabilities or the politicians?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It means she that she will not be rejected for the lung due to an arbitrary rule. It does not mean she will get the lung.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The 12 year old rule was arbitrary in the first place. Now in fact the medical professionals can exercise their judgement instead of enforcing the judgement of beaureaucrats.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The 12 year old rule was arbitrary in the first place. "

If you have legitimate proof of such that would be one thing. However, the government has access to the largest medical scientific protocols practices and research data bank there is in the world. It is highly likely that they used the medical scientific data of the time to make the "Rule" that was in place. Likewise, this court ruling does not 'change' anything towards a medical outcome for this individual other than a right to be placed on a list for medical evaluation of a lung transplant which will be the ultimate decision of medical authorities.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The HHS calculation is simple - these children won't be taxpayers or voters for at least 8 more years. That makes them poor investments. Hence, we don't change the rule. Look at Ezekial Emmanual's curve of treatments. It's right there. She's just a bit too young to get the best expenditure of effort from the state.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"If I let you have a lung, EVERYONE will want one!"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Call it what you want, Sarah nearly died at the hands of a death panel. And there will be many more such situations in the future under the Obamacare bureaucracy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
the reason for the age rule is the donor/recipient size discrepancy. she remains questionable for an adult lung. if she gets one, someone else better suited does not. transplantation is a zero sum game. someone dies to donate the organ. someone might live if given a good match. give her a public relations match and someone else dies now and she will quite possibly be a failed transplant.

i've harvested organs and taken care of recipients. this is a bad ruling.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They all are when you're playing God.........
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, it is not. The rule was put in back in 2004. It was determined that under-12's were simply too small to accept an adult lung. That is no longer true with modern medicine. That is why the judge issued the injunction when offered the proper evidence. It does not take a year, to determine what the doctors already know.

This does not move her to the front of the line, either. it just puts her on the list behind a bunch of people. She will likely yet die, but just not because she wasn't on the list. There still needs to be a blood-match and so forth.

This was an easy decision when faced with the simple evidence. Sebellius is just a nasty piece of work. Besides, why is the head of HHS not a doctor? It should be a requirement for the position.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Geesh Mark! The Surgeon General is a board certified doctor as are all those in the appropriate capacities at the NIH, CDC and the National Academy of Science divisions of Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. They all contribute to policy making in government and the private sector.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
one point that is being missed by all, or ignored, is that she already was on the pediatric list. she wasn't being denied anything. "...easy decision when faced with simple evidence..." no, it was a popular decision when faced with simplistic arguments. transplant by Public Relations firm. the flip side of death panels
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So her doctors saying that an adult lung would work were publicity hounds?

She was being rejected due to her solely due to a rule about age. She can still be rejected because a compatible lung can't be found. The ruling does not guarantee her a lung.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Good news. Hopefully she gets a lung and we can have some great news.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And the news for the person who got bumped is...???
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
View All