Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) took to Twitter on Tuesday night after learning that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius would not intervene in the transplant process for a dying 10-year-old girl.
Palin tied Sebelius' decision to recent scandals involving the Internal Revenue Service's targeting conservative groups and the Justice Department's acquiring the phone records of journalists:
Sebelius described Sarah Murnaghan's case as an "incredibly agonizing situation," but said these decisions should be made by medical experts. She noted that three other children in the same hospital are just as sick, and complex factors go into the transplant list formula, according to the Associated Press.
The Newtown Square [Pa.] girl has been hospitalized at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for three months with end-stage cystic fibrosis and is on a ventilator. Her family wants children younger than 12 to be eligible for adult lungs because so few pediatric lungs are available.
Under current policy, only patients 12 or over can join the list. But Sarah's transplant doctors say she is medically eligible for an adult lung.
Researchers have less data on lung transplants in pre-adolescents because only about 20 a year are done. And young children suffer from different lung diseases, making it more difficult to weigh their risks versus their chances of surviving transplants, according to a letter to Sebelius from Dr. John P. Roberts, president of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.
Amid concerns about the higher mortality rate in pediatric patients waiting for lung transplants, the network has tweaked its policies in recent years, Roberts said. The new rules give the younger children priority over adults when adolescent lungs become available and give the sickest children priority in a 1,000-mile radius, a broader range than used in the adult system, he said in the letter, which was shared by the office of Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa.