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Pennsylvania girl who sued for lung transplants to leave hospital

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - An 11-year-old Pennsylvania girl whose parents filed a lawsuit challenging national transplant policies so she could receive two lung transplants will be released from the hospital on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for her family said on Monday.

The girl, Sarah Murnaghan, underwent an operation earlier this summer to receive the transplants in a case that set off a national debate about child access to organ donations. She had earlier been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

A federal judge cleared the way for the operation in June after her parents sued to stop the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing a policy that prevents children under 12 from receiving adult lungs.

Sarah, who has been hospitalized for six months, will be released on Tuesday from the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, the Murnaghan family's spokeswoman, Tracy Simon, said in a statement.

"Sarah is coming home tomorrow!" Simon said in the statement. Earlier in the day, she said, "Her new lungs are doing great."

After Sarah settles into her home in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, about 13 miles west of Philadelphia, she and her parents will meet briefly with reporters, Simon said.

Hospital officials said they were not immediately able to confirm plans to release Murnaghan.

Sarah had her first lung transplant on June 12, but complications forced a second transplant several days later.

Simon said Sarah was walking short distances with the help of a walker and that she no longer received oxygen through a vent, though she still uses a machine to help her breathe.

Sarah also recovered from pneumonia she caught from being intubated, the spokeswoman said.

The girl's recovery is now focused on rebuilding strength in her legs and arms, as well as the muscles around her lungs, Simon added.

(Reporting by Dave Warner; writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by Scott Malone, G Crosse and Dan Grebler)

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