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Published On: Wed, Jun 5th, 2013

Sarah Murnaghan, dying 10-year-old, denied lung transplant by HHS head Kathleen Sebelius, called ‘death panel’ by critics

First Sarah Palin, then Rush Limbaugh and now back again to the “death panel” allegations as Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, told Congress Tuesday that she won’t sign a waiver allowing Sarah Murnaghan to sidestep a policy children younger than 12 from being added to a list for adult lung transplants.

lung-transplant-girlCritics are now racing to point to the “death panel” allegations during the Obamacare debates and how Washington will decide the fate of an individual’s health. In fact Rush Limbaugh began talking about the story saying:

“I lit a cigar in honor of Sarah Palin…there are indeed death panels in Obamacare…”

The Philadelphia girl, only age 10, has been at the center of this discussion and battle.

“I’m begging you. … She has three to five weeks to live. Please suspend the rules,” Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., urged Sebelius at a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing on her department’s budget.

Sebelius conceded the case was an “incredibly agonizing situation” but said many complex factors go into the transplant-list formula.

“We believe the regulations allow for you to direct OPTN to conduct an experimental variance,” U.S. Representative Patrick Meehan and U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, both Pennsylvania Republicans, wrote in a June 3 letter to Sebelius. “We do not have much time to wait.”

Sebelius, at a budget hearing of the House Education and Workforce Committee, told lawmakers yesterday that she prefers a process set by “medical science and by medical experts” rather than politicians and policy makers.

“I would suggest that the rules that are in place and are 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,” Sebelius said.

OPTN, created by Congress, operates as an independent nonprofit group under federal contract to manage transplant needs. Almost 1,700 people nationwide await a life-saving lung transplant, including 30 children ages 10 or younger, the OPTN said in a May 27 statement. In 2012 there were 11 lung donors from the ages of 6 to 10, the network said.

Murnaghan can’t receive a transplant from anyone older than age 12 ahead of other adults on the waiting list, according to national rules. The organ network said it can’t create an exemption on behalf of an individual patient, though it does routinely review allocation policies.

More details:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius rebuffed an appeal from Rep. Lou Barletta on behalf of a girl who needs a lung transplant but can’t get one because of a federal regulation that prevents her from qualifying for a transplant.

“Please, suspend the rules until we look at this policy,” Barletta, a Pennsylvania Republican, asked Sebelius during a House hearing Tuesday on behalf of Sarah Murnaghan, a 10-year-old girl who needs a lung transplant. She can’t qualify for an adult lung transplant until the age of 12, according to federal regulations, but Sebelius has the authority to waive that rule on her behalf. The pediatric lungs for which she currently qualifies aren’t available.

“I would suggest, sir, that, again, this is an incredibly agonizing situation where someone lives and someone dies,” Sebelius replied. “The medical evidence and the transplant doctors who are making the rule — and have had the rule in place since 2005 making a delineation between pediatric and adult lungs, because lungs are different that other organs — that it’s based on the survivability [chances].”

Photo video coverage of Sarah Murnaghan http://ktla.com/2013/05/31/dying-girl-denied-organ-transplant-because-of-her-age/

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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  1. Sarah Palin Blasts Sebelius for Denying Girl's Lifesaving Lung Transplant - LifeNews.com says:

    […] a young girl a lifesaving lung transplant — forcing the girl’s family to look to the …Sarah Murnaghan, dying 10-year-old, denied lung transplant by HHS head …The Global DispatchRepublican judge saves Sarah Murnaghan from death panel bureaucratsWashington […]

  2. Gary P Jackson says:

    Sarah Palin, of course, is right, this is EXACTLY what Americans will face every day if ObamaCare is allowed to be implemented.

    Funny how you left off the fact that Sebilius, who supports abortion on demand up until, and including a baby’s due date, told they girl’s parents that hey, “some live, some die” Liberals are pure evil and this proves it.

    You also left off the fact that Governor Palin noted that Obama bends and breaks the rules all of the time when it suits him, obviously saving the life of a ten year old girl doesn’t suit him.

    Thankfully, a judge stepped in this afternoon and forced Sebilius and the Obama government to get out of the way, and get this girl a new lung!

  3. » Pennsylvania girl’s parents sue government over lung transplant policy – CNN says:

    […] lungsNBCNews.com (blog)Parents file lawsuit in Pa. lung transplant caseThe Evening SunBloomberg -The Global Dispatchall 20 news […]

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