Korean cardinal’s influence seen in increased organ donation

The late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-Hwan
The late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-Hwan

.- The second anniversary of the death of Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-Hwan of Seoul comes at a time of increased organ donations attributed to his advocacy.

Organ donation pledges in Korea have exceeded 100,000 for the second straight year. The Korean Network for Organ Sharing said that 124,300 Koreans pledged to donate their organs, down from about 185,000 in 2009 but still ahead of previous years.

“Cardinal Kim’s donation greatly changed the social atmosphere,” an official from the organ network told Yonhap News Agency. “We expect that the number of donation pledges will be on a steady rise in the long term.”

The cardinal, who died at the age of 86, was respected by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. He had inspired the public by donating his eyes to two patients. He became a pledged organ donor as early as 1990, saying he wanted to “give everything and leave with nothing.”

In 1988 he established the organ donation group One Body, One Spirit. It received 36,500 pledges last year, up from 34,000 in 2009.

Yoon Kyung-joon, an official with the group, said it is important to see that sharing 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,” he explained.

The group plans to expand its public campaign to promote organ donation, powered by Cardinal Kim’s example.

A memorial Mass for the cardinal was scheduled to be held at the Catholic cemetery in Yongin in Gyeonggi province on the afternoon of Feb. 16. Another memorial Mass was scheduled for that evening at Myeongdong Cathedral.

Pope Benedict XVI himself was an organ donor until his election to the papacy, but Vatican officials said on Feb. 5 that this status was invalidated when he became Pope.

In a 2008 address to a conference on organ donation, Pope Benedict praised organ donation as a “testimony of love.” He also stressed that organ donation should take place in an ethical manner: vital organs should be removed from a donor only when his or her death is known with certainty to have taken place.

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