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Sarah Murnaghan, 11, Home After 2 Lung Transplants

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Now that Sarah Murnaghan is home, some of the focus is shifting to her mother Janet, whose focus never wavered when it came to getting help for her daughter. NBC10's Chris Cato has the story. (Published Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013)

    A Pennsylvania girl whose need for new lungs sparked a national debate on how transplant recipients are prioritized returned home to her family Tuesday after six months in the hospital.

    Sarah Murnaghan, who turned 11 this month, left The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and was carried into her family's Newtown Square home, which was festooned with balloons and signs that welcomed her home and thanked the donors whose lungs she received after her parents sued to change national transplant policy.

    Sarah's looking forward to being a normal little kid,'' said her mother, Janet, who said her daughter once enjoyed soccer and skating. ``We're looking forward to a nice long life: going to college, getting married and everything we dream about for our other kids.''

    Sarah received two sets of lungs this summer as she struggled with the effects of end-stage cystic fibrosis. She still has the disease, but it will not infiltrate her new lungs, which her parents said were working well.

    WATCH: Sarah Murnaghan Comes Outside

    [PHI] WATCH: Sarah Murnaghan Comes Outside
    After leaving the hospital today, Sarah Murnaghan came outside her Newtown Square home and waved at onlookers. (Published Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013)

    Asked how she was feeling Tuesday, Sarah quietly answered ``so-so,'' as she briefly joined her parents and three younger siblings on her front step. Her back was hurting because of stress fractures caused by cystic fibrosis, her mother said.

    Her release capped days of upbeat progress reports from the family on Facebook.

    RAW VIDEO: Sarah Murnaghan's Welcome Home

    [PHI] RAW VIDEO: Sarah Murnaghan's Welcome Home
    Watch as the 11-year-old double lung transplant recipient is wheeled into her Newtown Square home for the first time in six months. (Published Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013)

    On Sunday, Murnaghan said her daughter was taken off oxygen, although she still gets support from a machine that helps her to breathe, and had started to walk with the aid of a walker, even venturing outside.

    Sarah's recovery is now focused on building her muscle strength so she no longer has to use a breathing tube that caused a bout of pneumonia. She was sedated for most of the month of June, when she was in critical need of a transplant.

    Sarah Murnaghan's Finally Home

    [PHI] Sarah Murnaghan's Finally Home
    Today's a big day for the Murnaghan family as 11-year-old Sarah returns to her Newtown Square home for the first time in six months. LuAnn Cahn has the story (Published Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013)

    "We didn't know if she would live, and the system was up against us,'' Janet Murnaghan said outside her home Tuesday, where she and her husband Fran spoke to reporters.

    They went to federal court to challenge national transplant rules that put children like Sarah at the end of the waiting list for adult lungs. Yet Sarah did not qualify for the adolescent list, which is for children 12 and up.

    Sarah Murnaghan is Home!

    [PHI] Sarah Murnaghan is Home!
    The 11-year-old Delaware County resident left CHOP Tuesday after six months and two lung transplants. (Published Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013)

    A federal judge intervened, forcing the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network _ the private nonprofit group that manages U.S. organ allocation _ to add Sarah to the adult list.

    "More people live when you put the sickest patient first,'' Janet Murnaghan said Tuesday.

    Sarah Prepares to Go Home

    [PHI] Sarah Prepares to Go Home
    It's a big day for lung transplant-recipient Sarah Murnaghan. The 11-year-old is set to leaves CHOP months after her family fought to get her on the adult transplant list and weeks after she received new lungs. NBC10's Jesse Gary reports. (Published Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013)

    Sarah's first set of adult lungs failed after a June 12 transplant. A second set was transplanted three days later.

    The case raised questions among some health specialists and medical ethicists about how organ donation rules are developed and under what circumstances they might be disregarded.

    Sarah Murnaghan's Heading Home

    [PHI] Sarah Murnaghan's Heading Home
    Janet Murnaghan said Sunday that her daughter, who had a lung transplant in June, was taken off oxygen, although she still gets support from a machine that helps her to breathe, and has started to walk with the aid of a walker. (Published Monday, Aug 26, 2013)

    UNOS spokeswoman Anne Paschke said Tuesday that the temporary option for other children to apply for adult lungs will be in effect until the end of June 2014. She said a committee is currently studying whether to make that change permanent, or make other changes to adolescent lung transplant rules.

    So far, six children, including Sarah, have applied for adult lung transplants as a result of the temporary rule, Paschke said. Two of the others ultimately received adolescent donor lungs and three are still waiting for transplants.

    Sarah Takes Her First Steps

    [PHI] Sarah Takes Her First Steps
    A Newtown Square girl who gained national attention after her parents fought to get her on the adult lung transplant list took her first steps. (Published Saturday, Aug 10, 2013)

    Javier Acosta, a second child whose family also sued to get access to adult lungs, is still waiting for a transplant, family lawyer Melissa Hatch said Tuesday.

    The typical life expectancy for cystic fibrosis patients is 37 years and continues to rise as new medical advances are developed. Lung transplants do not cure the condition but can extend the patient's life. 

    The Murnaghans vowed to continue to advocate for permanent changes to the transplant rules. Sarah, meanwhile, will be starting fifth-grade through at-home instruction, while continuing with physical therapy and other rehabilitation.

    "Always advocate for your children. Always,'' said Fran Murnaghan, Sarah's father.