Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
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Friday, May 31, 2013

Listener Letters: Critically-Ill Girl

We received passionate response to our segment yesterday about a dying Pennsylvania girl who is on the top of the pediatric waiting list for donor lungs, but the bottom of the adult list, despite her critical condition.

Several listeners didn’t like the tone of some of my questions to Dr. Stewart Sweet, a physician who helped draft the regulations for lung donation.

Amy Von wrote on Here & Now’s website, “I think that in your effort to draw him out you ended up sounding somewhat hostile toward him and toward the system.”

Jan Groh of Portland, Oregon, objected to my asking whether Sarah would die if left at the bottom of the adult transplant list, calling the question “sensationalism.”

Other listeners wished that we’d spent more time talking about why there’s a critical shortage of donor organs in the first place.

In fact, Dr. Sweet did raise this issue after our interview, but unfortunately, it didn’t make it into the final edited version of the story. Here’s what he said:

“The way to solve this problem is to get a donor for every child. And everyone who’s listening to this story, please please please make the commitment to working on the donor side of this equation as much as you are interested and passionate about working on the fairness and allocation side of the story. Because we have to work on both of them to get it right.”

And we always try to get it right. Keep telling us when we do and when we don’t.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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