“Team Sarah”: How a Small Group of Public Relations Volunteers Helped a 10-Year-Old Get New Lungs and Changed U.S. Transplant Policy


  • Marjorie Kruvand Loyola University Chicago


Team Sarah, Sarah Murnaghan, lung transplant, transplant policy, strategic communication, public relations campaign, social media campaign, case study


When 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan was in dire need of a lung transplant, a small team of public relations practitioners volunteered to help make it happen. “Team Sarah,” as the professionals became known, quickly implemented a zero-budget, pro bono campaign that integrated media outreach, social media activity, and government relations. The team generated extensive media coverage and social media attention and prompted several political officials to advocate for Sarah. These efforts not only raised the visibility of Sarah’s case and helped her get donor lungs in only three weeks, but also changed U.S. transplant policy. Because this was the first time a comprehensive and professional strategic communication campaign had been used to aid a patient awaiting a transplant, the impact of Team Sarah’s efforts has sparked both praise and criticism.