The rule change by the United Network for Organ Sharing is expected to give seriously ill children under the age of 12 a better chance of finding a donor. UNOS supervises the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, which governs donations around the country.
Under the new policy, hospitals can apply to a national review board to have children placed on the list for adult lungs. Under the former rules, children could only be considered if there were no potential adult recipients.
The children would also remain on the pediatric list.
The current policy was challenged by the family of Sarah Murnaghan, a 10-year-old girl from Newtown Square, Pa., who has advanced cystic fibrosis. A federal judge ruled last week that Sarah could be placed on the adult list pending a hearing this Friday.
A day later, U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson ordered that Javier Acosta, 11, of New York, who, like Sarah, is a patient at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, also be placed on the adult list.
Sarah's parents argued the rule was discriminatory because adult lungs are far more likely to be available than children's. There are also far more adults awaiting donated lungs.
The UNOS executive board held a conference call to make the decision.