One day after receiving a set of adult lungs, 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan of Newtown Square was recovering Thursday at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia while thousands of congratulatory messages went up on her Facebook page.
The 1960s teen singing idol Bobby Rydell posted, "I received a double transplant (kidney & liver) in July. I have been thinking and praying for Sarah since I first heard. Now she, too, has an angel donor rooting for her!"
Sarah, who has cystic fibrosis, had been waiting 18 months for children's lungs when her family waged an all-out media and legal campaign to get her placed on the adult-transplant waiting list. Many more adult than pediatric lungs are donated, but federal allocation rules restrict children's access to adult lungs.
Sarah's parents filed a lawsuit, and a federal judge last week ordered that Sarah be put on the adult waiting list and ranked according to her medical urgency. Over the weekend, she went into respiratory failure and had to be put on a ventilator.
"It was not pediatric lungs," Sharon Ruddick said after her niece's surgery was completed successfully Wednesday. "She would have never have gotten these lungs" without the ruling.
Transplant patients normally spend several days in intensive care, then begin physical and pulmonary rehabilitation. They typically go home after two to three weeks.
Because Sarah was so sick before the transplant, her recovery may be rockier. "It could take a couple of months, it could take three weeks," Ruddock said.
She said Sarah did not yet know how much impact her case has had, although she has been aware that a day after the judge intervened in her behalf, he did the same for another cystic fibrosis patient at Children's, Javier Acosta, 11, of New York.
"She really wanted to Google herself the other day," Ruddock said, "and we were like, 'No.' "
This article includes information from the Associated Press.