Mother who lost one son fights for other to get new lungs
(CNN) — Milagros Martinez endured losing one of her sons to cystic fibrosis before he could get a lung transplant.
Now she’s hoping her younger boy, Javier Acosta, 11, will get such an operation in time.
“This is like watching movie that you’ve seen before and you want a different ending,” Martinez told CNN on Saturday. “It’s hard for me to tell my son ‘you have to have faith and be hopeful, you know this is going to happen for you,’ and inside knowing that chances are slim.”
A judge on Thursday made Javier, from Bronx, New York, more quickly eligible for adult lungs. The boy is hospitalized at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Judge Michael Baylson granted a temporary injunction and ordered U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to direct the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network to waive in Javier’s case a policy that keeps children younger than 12 from being prioritized for available adult lung transplants.
Martinez’ son, Jovan, died in 2009 at 11. Javier also has cystic fibrosis.
The ruling came the same day the judge granted an injunction for 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan, whose parents’ push for an organ transplant policy change has thrust the issue of who gets donated organs into the national spotlight. Sarah also needs a lung transplant.
Martinez said she was “excited” after hearing the news of the the ruling in Javier’s case.
“I felt it was a triumph on our side because it allows these children to have an opportunity to be considered for adult lungs, which they need badly, instead of just waiting it out,” she said. “We don’t know what tomorrow brings.”
According to Murnaghan and Martinez’s attorney, Stephen Harvey, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network is expected to consider Monday evening the families’ requests that the “Under 12” rule — which places children under age 12 at the bottom of the organ allocation list — be struck down.
Currently, it is estimated that 16 or fewer children nationwide are in the same position as Sarah and Javier, Harvey said.
If the rule is not struck down, a formal court hearing on the matter is scheduled for June 14.
“If Javi does not receive this transplant, he will die,” Martinez said. “Like any parent, I’m inclined to do whatever it takes, to help Javier have a normal life, whatever that may be.”