Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan seen with Pope John Paul II in this file photo. The Korean Church leader had pledged his corneas. CNS photo

SEOUL – A surge in organ donation pledges after Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan’s death is continuing among Catholics in Korea.

The annual report of Catholic NGO One-body One-spirit Movement (OBOS) on Dec 3 showed that 28,294 Catholics promised to donate their organs this year.

“We expected that the organ donations will decrease as Cardinal Kim’s influence declines. However, the number did not decrease much compared to last year,” said OBOS public relations officer Emiliana Ryu Jung-hee.

Cardinal Kim’s death last year ignited an increase in organ donations with a total of 31,868 pledges, almost outnumbering the total number of pledges over the last 20 years. The cardinal’s corneas were donated upon his death last February, fulfilling one of his last wishes.

The former Seoul archbishop was an iconic figure in South Korea’s transition from military rule to democracy. He died in 2009 from respiratory problems.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has offered various activities to sustain social interest in organ donations.

Last February, the Pro-life Activities under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea established the National Catholic Network for Organ Donations for a nationwide campaign.

In September, OBOS jointly formed the Korea Donation Network with Buddhists and medical experts.

OBOS also collected 3,492 haematopoietic or blood stem cell donors this year. A total of 129 lives were saved by transplanting blood stem cells from donors.

The organisation has spent some US$2.3 million for foreign aid, with 17 projects in 10 countries including Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan, and has supported the promotion of social justice and the fight against poverty.

OBOS has also offered US$1.4 million worth of relief aid for Chile, Haiti and Pakistan. UCANEWS.COM

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