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June 12, 2013

Kids Put at Bottom of List for Adult Organ Transplants

Watch Appeals Process Added for Kids Waiting for Lung Transplants on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Ten-year-old Sarah Murnaghan and 11-year-old Javier Acosta are both dying from cystic fibrosis, a disease that causes the body to make thick, sticky mucus which can clog up the lungs and digestive system. However, because they are under 12 years old, they have been placed on the bottom a waiting list to receive the life-saving adult lung transplants they will need to survive.

According to U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Sarah’s home state, that has to change.

“Sarah is being treated by some of the best doctors in the world, and they are convinced that she’s an excellent candidate to have a successful transplant surgery…” he said.

Last week, federal district Judge Michael Baylson in Philadelphia ordered a change in transplant policy for both cases, and said the children must be placed higher on the waiting list.

But some doctors say courts have no business deciding on medical matters.

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, the group that maintains the only national patient waiting list, is setting up an appeal process for children under 12.

Quote: “I don’t think we want judges making medical decisions any more than we want doctors deciding Supreme Court case.” – “Dr. Scott Halpern, University of Pennsylvania Hospital.

Warm up questions

1. What do you know about cystic fibrosis?

2. What is an organ donor?

3. What do you know about organ transplants?

Discussion questions

1. Do you think children should be placed higher on organ transplant waiting lists? Why or why not?

2. Do you think the courts should get involved with this decision, or should it be left to medical professionals?

3. If children are allowed to be placed higher on organ transplant lists, how do you decide what child gets the procedure done first?

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