Mother pleads for child's lung transplant

(CBS News) In Philadelphia, two terminally-ill children have until this Friday to receive the lung transplants that could save their lives. That's when a judge's order is set to expire, and their chances of receiving donor organs could be dramatically reduced.

Millie Martinez's son Javier is one of 70 children nationwide waiting for a lung transplant.
CBS News

"If Javier does not receive the transplant, he will die," said Millie Martinez.

She pleaded on Saturday for her son, Javier, who desperately needs a lung transplant. He has cystic fibrosis, the same disease that killed his older brother two years ago.

"It's the end of his life at 11, you know, and I feel that's unfair, because of a policy that shouldn't be that way," she said.

National organ donor policy gives top priority for lung transplants to people 12 and older. Javier is one of two children at the Philadelphia Children's Hospital waiting for a lung transplant. The other is 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan.

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Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has the power to waive the 12-and-older rule, but has not. This week, Congress pressed her on Sarah's case:

"Why wouldn't we do it? We do so much bull crap around this place, and we have the chance to save someone's life," said Pennsylvania Rep. Lou Barletta.

"Sir, there are 40 people in the highest acuity list waiting for a lung in Pennsylvania," responded Sebelius.

Thursday, a federal judge issued an order making Sarah an exception to the rule. That decision prompted Javier's mother to contact Sarah's attorney, Stephen Harvey. He now represents both families and wants an exception for Javier, too.

"We're not asking to jump to the front of the line," said Harvey. "We're just asking that in this case it be based on the severity of his condition."

Javier is one of 70 children nationwide waiting for a lung transplant.

"There's no sugar coating what he's going through, how he feels every day, his shortness of breath. I don't know what that feels like, but he does," said Millie.

Javier has been hospitalized for two months. The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network -- the group that oversees transplants -- is meeting Monday to consider changes in its 12-and-older policy.

  • Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson

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