The plight of a dying 10-year-old girl in urgent need of a lung transplant has been taken up by some GOP lawmakers, and itâ€™s shining a light on what critics say is a questionable policy that puts children further down the waiting list.
The family of the Pennsylvania girl, Sarah Murnaghan, has garnered the media spotlight, on cable news and in other outlets. And some GOP congressmen have joined the fray, quite literally â€œbeggingâ€ HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to intervene and save the girlâ€™s life. Both Pennsylvania senators â€” a Democrat and a Republican â€” have also written on the childâ€™s behalf.
â€œIâ€™m begging you,â€ Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) told Sebelius at a House hearing Tuesday morning, asking her to suspend the transplant rules until they can be revisited. â€œSarah has three to five weeks to live. Time is running out.â€ The child has cystic fibrosis.
At the hearing, Sebelius called the situation â€œagonizingâ€ and said she had talked to the girlâ€™s mother. She has ordered a review of the policy, which she acknowledged would take too long to have any impact on this girlâ€™s situation, but said it wasnâ€™t her place to pick and choose transplant recipients.
â€œI canâ€™t imagine anything worse than one individual getting to pick who lives and who dies,â€ she said. Sebelius said putting Sarah next in line would disadvantage other young people who have also been waiting for transplants â€” including three in the same area. Helping one child could possibly hurt another.
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