Sarah Murnaghan, 10, is fighting for her life alongside her parents, who are trying to overturn a law concerning organ donation. Sarah's age makes her too young to be an adult recipient, and there are considerably fewer juvenile donations of the organ she needs to live. Her parents believe the United Network for Organ Sharing has abandoned their daughter and "left her to die."
Sarah suffers from cystic fibrosis and needs a lung transplant in order to live; she has been in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for three months and requires a ventilator to breathe. Doctors told her parents that without a transplant she only has three to five weeks to live.
At the heart of the controversy is the fact that Sarah, 10, is two years too young to receive an adult lung transplant. Data shows that there are considerably more adult lungs available for transplant every year compared to juvenile lungs. Sarah has been on a waiting list for two years but has not had any luck.
Sarah's parents, Janet and Fran, petitioned Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to overturn the law and allow Sarah to be eligible for an adult transplant. However, Sebelius did not, and Sarah continues to wait.
"Secretary Sebelius' decision to not exercise her very clear authority under the law to intervene and mandate a variance that would help Sarah's life is devastating," the family said in a statement.
"We are told her only hope is a direct donation from the public. We recognize how difficult the end of a person's life is – we are at that point with Sarah. And we must now ask for the single greatest favor any parent can, and that is to consider naming our child an organ recipient should someone lose the life of a loved one in the very near future," they added.
Fran and Janet have decided not to tell Sarah how sick she is but instead are focused on making her remaining days as "normal" as possible.
"I'm not going to tell her she's dying because she's 10. I'm going to tell her we're going to keep fighting. I don't want to scare her," Janet told CNN.
"We will get them!" Sarah added. "I can't wait to take my first breath with new lungs. I can close my eyes right now and imagine it … I'm never going to quit! Never, never!"