Joshua Sonett, MD, Chief, General Thoracic Section, weighs in on national lung transplant debate

National media have been closely following the case of Sarah Murnaghan, a ten-year-old child with cystic fibrosis who desperately needs a lung transplant. According to the rules governing organ allocation, children under the age of twelve can be placed on the pediatric waitlist for donor lungs, but they are not eligible for adult lungs. Joshua Sonett, MD, provides perspective to the national discussion which has followed upon the heels of a court ruling permitting Sarah and another child to be placed on the adult waitlist, at least temporarily, and a decision by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) to allow children like Sarah to have their cases reviewed by a board of lung transplant surgeons, and potentially be placed on both pediatric and adult waitlists.

According to Dr. Sonett, the rules governing allocation of adult organs was revised about eight years ago to account for the severity of illness. But those changes only applied to adults and children over age 12. The current situation highlights the need to reconsider the rules for children as well, but the solution is far from clear, as divisions among the medical community make evident. Many experts agree that children who need lung transplants may be at an unfair disadvantage in the current system, but they also recognize that making continuous exceptions for individual patients is problematic.

Listen to Dr. Sonett's comments in a video on CBS News, and read his comments in a New York Times article, below.

Children added to adult lung transplant list amid outcry a dilemma for doctors

CBS News June 7, 2013

Vote Allows Children Under 12 Seeking Lung Transplant to Have Case Reviewed

New York Times June 10, 2013