TODAY   |  February 15, 2014

Girl ‘doing great’ after controversial lung transplant

The Pennsylvania girl who was given a double lung transplant after her family fought to challenge the rules governing who receives donor organs is recovering and doing well enough to play with her siblings. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> may remember sarah murnaghan's story. she's the 11-year-old girl whose parents fought a very public battle to change the rules on who could receive donor organs. sarah did receive a double lung transplant this summer. kristen dahlgren spoke with her about how she's doing now. kristen, good morning.

>> good morning, erica. what a remarkable little girl . now, some eight months after two transplants, sarah is doing great. she still has challenges, but she also has a message of hope.

>> can i swim?

>> no.

>> reporter: for 11-year-old sarah murnaghan, a snow day spent playing inside with her siblings is a miracle.

>> am i brown?

>> reporter: less than a year ago, she was in a hospital, her lungs riddled with cystic fibrosis .

>> out of breath.

>> reporter: given just weeks to live.

>> i thought she was going to die.

>> reporter: sarah was just 10. but in a case that drew national attention, her parents had to go to court to have sarah put on a transplant list for patients 12 and up.

>> she told me to never, ever give up on her.

>> reporter: sarah is still a fighter. when a judge ruled the guidelines should change for her, she received two double lung transplants. the first set failed. the second surgery worked. now back home with her family, sarah showed me the tough physical therapy she does every day.

>> all right! all right, show me your muscles. can i see them? huge! you got strong.

>> i guess.

>> whoa!

>> reporter: she still needs to be careful. her immune system is weak and her bones brittle and fractured from the medication and so much time on bed rest, but every day brings improvements. she now breathes on her own, can get up and downstairs. and friday night, the girl who wants to be a rock star got a hero's welcome at a cystic fibrosis benefit. and the little girl who's been through so much brought this message to others who are suffering.

>> whatever you are dealing with, young or old, just to be yourself. look deep inside yourself for that bravery and reason to fight.

>> isn't she amazing? her mom tells me she feels like what sarah 's been through has saved lives. she's still fighting, though. she wants a temporary stay to transplant rules to become permanent. she says, whenever possible, the sickest patients should get organs first. erica.

>> thanks. great to see her making such a good improvement.