Panel Reviews Organ Transplant Policies For Kids

11:49 AM, Jun 10, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Today, organ transplant experts are meeting to review the guidelines for children. This debate was brought up after to two parents, both their children dying of cystic fibrosis, sued to get restrictions lifted for the time being.

Until now, the rules for organ transplant were that children over the age of 12 are prioritized by severity of their disease and odds of success. Kids under 12 may receive an adult organ only after it had been presented by appropriate adult candidates.

The lawyers say the rules set by the Organ Procurment and Transplatation Network are unfair. Last Wednesday, a temporary restraining order was issued to postpone existing organ allocation rules.

Children Javier Acosta and Sarah Murnaghan, ages 10 and 11, are both dying from terminal cystic fibrosis. Both children are expected to live for 3-5 more weeks without lung transplants.

In the center of this situation is an extensive ethical debate. While these children need lung transplants, the rules restrict them to only being able to receive child lungs, not adult lungs because of their ages. Though doctors have said that Sarah could recieve adult lungs modified to her size, it may impose greater health risks.

Prof. Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University spoke to 9News' Anita Brikman about the ethics of the judge's decision to issue the temporary order.  He didn't think it was ethical.

Gostin says, "No, I don't think it is. Basically he had before him a desperately ill young person, it tugs at everybody's heart, but for every person before the judge they'll be many other who are equally in dire states."

Gostin adds, "Basically if these two children get the transplant, which of course they deserve, because they're ill and we all care deeply about them, but it just means that two others would die."

To see the whole interview with Prof. Gostin, click the link attached to this article.