The greatest donationBoxer Choi Yo-sam gave us both sadness and hope as he left this earth and went to heaven. It is truly sad that we cannot see the champion in the ring anymore, but there is also hope and inspiration as we witnessed how Choi’s organs were donated to help the living before he went on his last journey. For humans, the greatest gift that can be given is not money or honor. It is saving the life of another person. That is why doctors who make a living by saving others have been respected since ancient times. That is why in Buddhism alms are considered a must to enter nirvana. Choi has left behind the image of a true hero, but the reality of giving to others here is actually rather embarrassing.
According to the Korean Network for Organ Sharing, a total of 24,700 people were waiting in line for an organ donation at the end of last year. That number is 14 times higher than the 148 people who died of a brain death and were potential donors. On a yearly basis, the number of organ transplants is 3.1 per 1 million people, compared to 30 per million in Spain, which has the highest ratio in the category.
This is a shameful number for a country in which volunteers have created a miracle, working together to battle the environmental damage caused in Taean, South Chungcheong by the oil tanker leakage. In that case, Koreans demonstrated a spirit of sacrifice.
This is because of a deeply rooted culture of Confucianism in which the body is revered as sacred. In many cases, organ donation is blocked by family members. In addition, the complex administrative process for organ donation is another obstacle. In the United States, brain death is judged by the attending doctor, but here, after a doctor’s decision, a separate committee verifies the death.
The president-elect has called 2008 a starting point for becoming a developed country.
But being a developed country does not always refer to the wealth of a country.
A society in which the spirit of giving and sharing is abundant is truly a developed society. Thus, a movement aimed at increasing organ donations is essential for the government’s overall goal of becoming a developed country.
This year is the Year of the Rat. Among the 12 signs in the sexagenary cycle the rat is the one character that has the strongest ability to survive.
At the beginning of this new year, let’s hope that Choi Yo-sam’s spirit of giving will blossom and spread like a noonflower.
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