Patient hopes for nationwide organ transplant policy change - KMSP-TV

Patient hopes for nationwide organ transplant policy change

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On Monday, the executive committee of the Organ Procurement and Transportation Network will meet to discuss lung transplant policy -- and at least one patient hopes the nation will soon see a change.

At 33, Jamie Hammer cherishes every day she gets to spend with her husband, Chris. Just two and a half years ago, she lay in the hospital and wondered whether she would ever see him or her stepdaughter ever again.

"I was so scared I was going to leave them and never have the opportunity to say the things and do the things I wanted to," she admitted.

Hammer was born with cystic fibrosis, and her lungs began to fail in October 2010. She needed a transplant, and two months later, word came of a match.

"There's not a day that goes by now that we don't thank God for life and thank God for the days we get to be together," she told FOX 9 News.

Hammer believes everyone should have an equal chance at getting a second chance at life, but she was shocked to learn that there are separate lung transplant waiting lists for adults and children under 12. As she watched 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan struggle with the same agony she felt while waiting for a donor, she felt compelled to speak out in favor of change.

"In my opinion, she's 10 -- I'm 30; she deserves a chance to have her first kiss, go to prom, go to high school," she said.

Some would say putting the girl on the adult list could take away a lung from another person who has been waiting, but Hammer doesn't see it that way.

"It wouldn't be like that," she insisted. "She wouldn't be taking my lungs. Those lungs were supposed to go to her. If that's who they are supposed to go to, fine."

When she heard Murnaghan won the right to get on the adult list, Hammer was ecstatic.

"All power to her. She deserves every chance, same chance I had," she said.

Even so, Hammer believes it shouldn't have been an issue in the first place.

"We don't need more policies. We need more organ donors. We need more people to sign up on the registry to be an organ donor," she said. "That's what it comes down to or we wouldn't be fighting over this."

Hammer hopes the policy will be changed at Monday night's meeting, explaining that any mother would fight "tooth and nail" to get their child more options for survival. In fact, another family in Philadelphia filed a suit on Thursday night to seek an order from a federal judge to place their child on the adult waiting list as well.

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