Sarah's First Full Day With New Lungs

Sarah's First Full Day With New Lungs

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Philadelphia, PA -


    It's a critical waiting period right now for a 10-year-old Delaware County girl. Sarah Murnaghan received her double lung transplant Wednesday, thanks to a judge's order that allowed her to get on an adult organ donor waiting list despite her young age.  And while the transplant is cause for celebration, Sarah still has quite a fight ahead.
    We did not heard from the family Thursday; their attention is focused on Sarah's recovery, understandably.  But we do know from doctors and other lung transplant recipients, it is a difficult recovery.
    A week ago Sarah cheered at the prospect of getting another chance at life.  Now her family is waiting for her to take her first breath with her new donor lungs.  "It's very very hard to recover from a lung transplant," Sarah's Aunt Sharon Ruddock explained shortly after the surgery.  "It's painful, it's difficult.  But Sarah has always said she was never going for easy, she was just going for possible," Ruddock continued.  "So she's a fighter, and we're sure she's going to get through this."
    Sarah had waited 18 long months for her lung transplant, after the cystic fibrosis she was born with destroyed the ones she had.  And Dr. George Mallory at Texas Children's Hospital says that will make her situation now even harder.  "I think the biggest challenge will be that this girl's been so sick for so long, she may be in a weakened state and may require a longer period of time for recovery," Dr. Mallory explained.
    Her family and other lung transplant patients say doctors will try to get her breathing on her own as soon as possible.  That's what happened the day after Kathi Clapham received her new lungs.  "The next morning they were able to pull the breathing tube, which is amazing to come out of it that early," Clapham explained.  Exactly what doctors hoped to do with Sarah.  "Yeah, you want to get those lungs working," Clapham added. 
    When they do get working for Sarah, doctors say she'll notice the difference immediately.  "So you go, if you can imagine, from being short of breath all the time, from going to bed short of breath, from waking up short of breath, always with a sense of chronic suffocation, to being able to breathe normally," Dr. Benjamin Gaston of University of Virginia Hospital told Fox News.  And give Sarah back her life.  If she's lucky, she'll end up just like Kathi Clapham.  "We joke around, you know, my kids get sick, my husband gets sick, and I'm the healthiest one in the house now," Clapham said, a smile on her face.
    Right now doctors are monitoring her closely, looking for any possible signs her body might be rejecting her new lungs.  Experts say that risk is greatest within the first 24 hours.  But if all continues to go well, she might just get to celebrate the Fourth of July-- at home.

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