Giving the gift of renewed life
The Organ Donors Memorial Hall section of the Korea Organ Donation Agency’s Web site has the following passage: “Someday, my doctor would conclude that my brain is no longer functioning. And he would declare that the purpose and will of my living self have come to a stop. Then, don’t let my bed belong to a dead man and make it a bed of a living person. Please give my eyes to someone who has never seen the breathtaking sunset, the innocent faces of children and the eyes of a woman in love. Please give my heart to someone who is suffering from endless pain.”
Kim Won-joong, who was born in 1986, died too young in 2012. The senior at Konkook University majoring in Japanese education was working as a translator for Japanese guests invited by Yeoncheon County, Gyeonggi. At 11:40 p.m. on Aug. 18, he was crossing the street in the rain after doing some grocery shopping. He was struck by a speeding car and taken to Yeoncheon Medical Center, then to Eujeongbu St. Mary’s Hospital, which did not have an intensive care unit or the surgeons to operate.
Only at 4 a.m. the following day did he finally arrive at a hospital in Myeonmok-dong and have surgery. Unfortunately, he missed the golden hour, the time period following injury to perform medical treatment to prevent death.
His brain damage was severe, and the operation was not successful. Upon being transferred to Konkook University Hospital, he was pronounced brain dead on Aug. 21. His parents, who are devout Christians, decided to donate the organs of their son. He had always wanted to become a teacher and was a giving person. So they thought that’s what their son would wish to do. On Aug. 22, his heart, liver, kidneys and small intestines were removed. His father, Kim Yong-cheol, said his son was a handsome and healthy man.
Thanks to the organs from this young and giving man, five people were presented with new lives. Kim Won-joong’s remains are kept at the charnel house in Byeokje Memorial Park.
“My son may have left this world, but his heart is still beating,” said his father. “He is still alive.”
The writing on the Web site ends: “If you want to ever remember me, please remember my kind words and acts only. If you grant my requests, I will live forever.”
I, too, think Kim Won-joong is not dead and will live forever. His parents must be devastated to have their beloved son pass away. Kim’s mother was more involved than her husband when making the decision to donate organs, and she remained composed and reserved during the operation and funeral. But now, Kim’s father said, he often finds her crying quietly at night.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Noh Jae-hyun