When working to educate Americans on what the future of medicine would look like in an Obamacare world, our coalition of concerned parents warned of the effects of rationing and government red-tape for those most vulnerable among us. Now, sadly, even before it’s in full implementation next year, we’re seeing first-hand the result of this government beaucracy.
Today, a ten year-old little girl, Sarah Murnaghan, is dying in Philadelphia –dying of cystic fibrosis. The same disease my son, Gunner, suffers from. She needs a lung transplant to live or her life will be cut short in the next three to five weeks. Because of government regulations, she cannot be added to the adult/adolescent lung transplant list because she is under 12. And because pediatric lungs are so rare – only 11 were donated in 2012 – her only chance for survival is to be entered into the adult/adolescent lung transplant list and wait her turn.
Her doctors believe that if she gets the opportunity to have an adult/adolescent lung transplant she will survive. And her family has publicly stated that they aren’t asking for any special favors or to jump ahead of the line – just be entered into the line.
But the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, has said “no” – effectively making her a one-woman death panel.
Former U.S. Attorney and current Pennsylvania U.S. Congressman Patrick Meehan has reviewed the federal policy and has stated that because Sarah’s doctors believe she will survive the transplant, Sebelius could make an exception to the existing federal regulation “without upsetting precedent or violating the consistency of allocation policy.” He also wrote in a letter to the Secretary that: “Sarah is not asking to be placed ahead of another, but rather she is petitioning for the ability to compete for equitable treatment based on sound medical judgment and that she be accorded her appropriate place in line. Her need and survivability are the critical factors.”
Now, I know the ethics of organ transplants can be a tricky subject for some. I have had disagreements among my own friends and family members. However, for families who are eagerly awaiting a donated organ to save the life of their child or know that it one-day will come down to that, organ donation is a miracle of modern science and treated with great reverence.
Still, others will say, sure, this little girl could get a lung but because she has cystic fibrosis, her chances of living a long life are still slim because her genetic disease will attempt to destroy her new lung. But that’s the case with almost all lung transplant cases, the person requiring the transplant is suffering from an incurable disease and is hoping to get to shot at a few more precious years of life. Because of the complexity of the transplant surgery and the almost guaranteed post-surgery immune system rejection, the long-term survival for lung transplant patients isn’t as long as those who have received other types of organs like kidneys, livers, etc.
However, one thing is for sure – age at the time of a person’s transplant is the most important factor influencing lung transplant survival.
Sadly, what is happening to Sarah is only the start of what we will see happen to our health care system under Obamacare. Government red-tape will override the expertise of our doctors, and soon we will all be at the mercy of death panels run by Kathleen Sebelius and other un-elected bureaucrats.