02/17/2011, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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Organ donations up because of Cardinal Kim

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
The late prelate, beloved by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, had started his own fight for organ donations, until then a taboo in the country. For the second year in a row, two years after his death, pledges to donate top the 100,000 mark.
Seoul (AsiaNews) –  As South Korea marks today the second anniversary of the death of Card Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, a government agency said yesterday that the number of organ donation pledges in the country exceeded the 100,000 mark for the second straight year, a significant fact in a predominantly Buddhist nation where organ donations have always been frowned upon. Some attribute this change in attitude to the cardinal, who campaigned for decades in favour of organ donation.

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

“Cardinal Kim’s donation greatly changed the social atmosphere,” a Konos official said. “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.

With a desire to “give everything and leave with nothing”, the cardinal established an organ donation group, “One Body, One Spirit,” in 1988 to share life with others.

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

“It’s important that sharing of life is a good deed. In line with this, religious circles and private organisations’ efforts to increase organ donation will expand the base of donation,” the Konos official said.

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