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Murnaghan v. United States Department of Health & Human Services

2013 WL 3363500 (2013)

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Murnaghan v. United States Department of Health & Human Services

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

2013 WL 3363500 (2013)

Facts

Sarah Murnaghan (plaintiff) was a 10-year-old girl who was severely ill with cystic fibrosis and hoped to receive a lung transplant to save her life. Sarah was in the intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (the hospital), waiting for a lung transplant from an organ donation allocated by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (the network). The National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 (NOTA) required the network to allocate donated organs equitably, but the network’s Policy 3.7 put children under 12 years old at the back of the line for lungs donated by adults regardless of medical urgency. Under the policy, any adult or adolescent on the transplant list with any disease-severity level had priority over every child on the transplant list who was under 12 years old. The network believed that it did not have enough data to determine whether its lung-allocation-score system would work for children under 12 years old. However, there was evidence that adult lungs could be transplanted to children under 12 years old, and data showed that children waiting on the network’s list for lung transplants were dying at a much higher rate than adults on the waiting list. Sarah’s parents, Janet and Francis Murnaghan (plaintiffs) brought an action against the secretary of the United States Department of Health & Human Services (the secretary) (defendant), seeking judicial review of the secretary’s decision to continue application of the network’s inequitable Policy 3.7 to children under 12 years old. Janet and Francis requested that the court enter an emergency temporary restraining order to allow Sarah to be considered immediately by the network for lung donation and transplantation while the court considered the matter more fully.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Baylson, J.)

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