sarah_murnaghan_600It’s already happening. In less than a week, two cases involving children in need of lung transplants have gone to court challenging government policy.

This leads to the larger question: Should the government be intervening in this sort of healthcare policy to begin with? Be sure to vote in the poll at the bottom of this post.

The backstory, from Politico, June 4:

A federal judge in Philadelphia has granted a temporary restraining order in the second case involving children needing lung transplants in as many days, raising questions among ethicists about political pressure, emotional media coverage and case-by-case decision making about allocating scarce organs.

The family of 11-year-old Javier Acostafiled suit on Thursday against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, seeking broader eligibility for a potentially lifesaving lung transplant for the boy. The family of Sarah Murnaghan [pictured above], 10, had gone to court a day earlier.

Both families challenged the current national transplant policy, which puts children younger than 12 first in line for organs from a child, even though pediatric lung donors are even rarer than adult donors. Both families wanted the age limitation lifted, so they could be eligible for organs from adult donors, too.

In both cases, U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson ordered Sebelius to put the children on the adult waiting list. The children, who have cystic fibrosis and are at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, are now on both the adult and pediatric waiting lists….

The lung transplantation policy has come under fire from some members of Congress, too, who had pressed Sebelius to intervene. Some conservative blogs said she was acting like a “death panel”….

But experts in the transplantation community are worried that the cases could send a troubling message. Namely, if you’ve got a problem with a transplant waiting list policy, take your case to your local television station and sue the government.

And while you’re at it, recruit your congressional delegation to the cause, medical establishment be damned. Then you may move up the list….

This particular policy was implemented in 2005 after five years of deliberation over how to replace the first-come, first-served standard. That had been the norm to that date and paid no heed to medical urgency.

Commenter Jim on Dustin Siggins’ Facebook page noted:

On the one hand, Sebelius did the right thing by staying out of it (IMO). On the other, why does the government mandate age restrictions on these types of things? They should stay out of it, altogether.

If the girl was on the transplant list and went through the same screening as everyone else, she should qualify for whatever her doctors believe is best. Government involvement prohibits the doctors from doing their job and changes the medical market to look at society as a whole rather than as numerous individuals.

In this case, mob rule wins… everyone better just hope and pray that the girl survives or Sebelius and the Federal government will look like geniuses. And yes, this sets a terrible precedent that if you can sway a politician, you have a better chance than those already in line.

Your thoughts?

 

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[Photo via Philly.com]

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