COMMENTARY | Few people remember Sarah Murnaghan, the little girl who would have died of cystic fibrosis had she not gotten not just one but two lung transplants. The good news is that the 11 year old is now breathing on her own for the first time in years.
The controversy occurred last year, it may be recalled, when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius denied Murnagham access to an adult lung in order to save her life, in effect acting as a one woman death panel. Fortunately a judge disagreed and the little girl got to live to see her 11th birthday after all.
Sebelius’ apparent willingness to let a little girl die because of a bureaucratic rule that denied children under 12 access to adult lungs was horrible almost beyond belief. Even before the Obamacare website disaster, the Murnagham controversy proved to many people that Sebelius should not ever hold a public office of trust, especially one that involves decisions of life and death.
Murnagham’s happy progress back to some version of health still highlights an ongoing problem. There are too many people who need organ transplants chasing too few available organs. That is one reason why committees of health care professionals must deliberate over who gets to have transplants and live and who will be denied and die.
The ultimate solution will be technological. Progress is being made on procedures that would grow new organs out of a person’s own stem cells, using the burgeoning technology of 3D printing. In the not so distant future cases like Murnagham’s will be consigned to the ash heap of history. She would get a new pair of lungs that would be indistinguishable from her original ones, with the obvious difference that they would be healthy and not disease ridden. Millions who now die will now live healthy, long lives.
As Glenn Reynolds, the purveyor of Instanpundit, would say, “Faster please.”