Nightly News   |  June 12, 2013

Girl’s new lungs prompt concerns over transplant regulations

After waiting for three months, Sarah Murnaghan, 10, will finally receive new lungs after hers were damaged beyond repair by cystic fibrosis. She had been placed on a waiting list for children, which would have been a lengthy process. But after her family went to court a judge allowed her to join the adult transplant list, and one week later new lungs became available. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports.

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>>> fight for life that tap toured so much attention across the country and left her family at the center of a big debate about children and organ donors from adults. thanks to a judge's intervention, she is getting the lungs she needs to survive. more from stephanie gosk.

>> reporter: the lungs that doctors hope will save sarah murngahan's life were rushed to the hospital today. her mother announced the news. god is great. he moved the mountain, sarah got the call. she has been waiting for a donor at children's hospital in philadelphia. lungs damaged beyond repair from cystic fibrosis . her parents feared she would die before getting a transplant and took her case to the press.

>> she has weeks to live, struggling and fighting with each breath and we have no greater chance of getting lungs today than we did when she was fairly healthy six months ago, but severity of illness doesn't matter.

>> reporter: national regulations require children under the 12 be put on a separate list from adults. transplanting full sized lungs in children can be risky. but there are not many young donors. the director of health and human services painted a grim picture.

>> we have far too few donors and far too many desperately ill people.

>> reporter: the murngahans went to court along with the family of javier acosta, filing a federal lawsuit. and they won. the children will be put on the adult transplant list. the transplant lists are set up by doctors and medicale etetmedicalethicis ts.

>> judges are decide w s will decide who l ives and who dies.

>> reporter: a week after the court decision , sarah murngahan is getting new lungs, a relief for one family, but a problem that the health department still needs to resolve.