Organ donations rise on occasion of cardinal’s death

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Organ donations rise on occasion of cardinal’s death


A visitor prays for Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan at his tomb in the Catholic cemetery in Yongin, Gyeonggi, on Sunday. The second anniversary of his death falls today. [YONHAP]

As the nation marks the second anniversary of the death of Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, which falls today, a government agency said yesterday that the number of organ donation pledges in Korea exceeded the 100,000 mark for the second straight year, apparently influenced by a precedent set by the late cardinal.

According to the Korean Network for Organ Sharing (Konos), a total of 124,300 Koreans made written pledges last year to donate their organs after death, down from some 185,000 pledges in 2009, the year Cardinal Kim died at the age of 86.

Despite the decrease, the figure is still much higher than the past, representing at least a 1.5-fold increase over the previous data of up to 90,000 before 2008, said an official from Konos.

“Cardinal Kim’s donation greatly changed the social atmosphere,” said the official. “We expect that the number of donation pledges will be on a steady rise in the long term.”

The late cardinal, who was respected by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, had deeply inspired the public by donating his eyes to two patients. He had pledged to donate his organs as early as 1990, desiring to “give everything and leave with nothing.”

He established an organ donation group, “One Body, One Spirit,” in 1988 with the will to share life with others, and it received 36,500 pledges last year alone, up from some 34,000 in 2009.

The group said the public campaign to promote organ donation will continue its upward trend, powered by Cardinal Kim’s choice.

“It’s important that sharing of life is a good deed. In line with this, religious circles and private organizations’ efforts to increase organ donation will expand the base of donation,” said Yoon Kyung-joon from the group.

Meanwhile, a memorial Mass for the cardinal will take place at the Catholic cemetery in Yongin, Gyeonggi, at 2:00 p.m. today.

Another memorial Mass will be held at Myeongdong Cathedral in central Seoul at 6:00 p.m.

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