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Changing the age requirement for lung transplants

The case of a very sick ten year old girl in Pennsylvania may change the rules for organ transplants in America or at least for lung transplants.

Sarah Murnaghan has Cystic Fibrosis.
The rules now say she must wait for another *child's lungs to get a transplant that could save her life.

But a federal judge this week suspended the 'age' rule for Sarah and an 11 year old boy in a similar plight.
The children are now on a waiting list for adult lungs as well greatly improving their chances of finding a match.
But the underlying fact in these cases and thousands more is this:
If there were more organ donors, more sick people would live.
16 year old Sarah Brown was mortally injured in a car accident six years ago.
But today her heart is still beating in a boy who would have died without Sarah's organs.
Kristin Brown-Sanders: "Her dad and I looked at each other in the hospital and we both said 'yes, of course.' If our child can't live, then please let's save some others."

It was a decision Sarah's mom Kristin even discussed with her, when Sarah was getting her driving permit.

Kristen: "And like any teenager, she didn't want to talk about it much but I said, if something did happen, would you really want to help someone and she said yes."

In fact applying for or renewing a driver's license is how most people select to become an organ donor.   

Paul Webb/Organ Donor:  "When I got transferred here in the Air Force and it was on my driver's license so I always thought it was a good idea."

Nathalie Williams/Organ Donor:  "Are you an organ donor? Yes. Do you give it much thought? No.

But outside the motor vehicle office who really thinks about it.
Jane Stearns/Lifequest: "There's a tremendous number of people waiting for organ transplants in the US. Over 118,000 people today.

An average of 18 people die every day waiting for organs in the U.S."
Jane Stearns works for Lifequest. One of 58 organizations in the country that work to match donors with donees.
A quilt on her wall remembers the people who provided life to a stranger, long after they themselves were gone.
Jane Stearns/LifeQuest  'It's absolutely a personal decision. It's a proactive registry because the vast majority of people joining the registry will never be in a position where they can donate an organ."

That's because finding a willing donor is only the beginning.
The organ size, blood type, age, and many other things must all come together to make a transplant work, especially the lungs.  Which are particularly tricky.
"If more people were educated and proactively joining the registry, then we could significantly decrease the number of people waiting."

And a successful transplant doesn't only save a life it can help the pain of losing a loved one.

"It took a few years, but now it does. Now that I've met the little boy who got her heart, it helps.  But at the beginning, nothing helps."

An organization called "Unos" oversees organ transplants in the country .
It will be reviewing its lung transplant policy on Monday to see if the rule requiring an adult waiting list,  and a juvenile list needs to change.
Five children received lung transplants in the first three months of this year and 72 were on the waiting list.

If you'd like to register as an organ donor go to or
It's the same group that maintains the registry offered at the driver's license offices.