Saturday, January 26, 2013

Organ Transplantes

Why do bad things happen to good people is a question that invariably pops up when teaching those interested in Christianity. When hearing about the crucifixion, many will ask, Why did Christ, the loving son of the Father, die on the cross? Isn't this the koan we all must face in trying to answer their question? The recent accidental death of a young man in a snowboarding accident raises the question in another context, but in this case, the accidental death of the young man may more easily help us see the mystery in a larger context.

The story of the young man, only 21 years-old, was carried on the front page of both Catholic papers. He was a Sunday school teacher on an outing at a ski camp with altar boys from the parish. After the accident, he was moved to a hospital in Seoul and never recovered consciousness. His parents, knowing their son's wish to be a religious, and his continued service to others, decided to give his organs to others in need. He was talented, playing the guitar, drums and piano, and would teach how to play them without pay. He also served as an accompanist for the children in the Sunday school program

The doctors removed  his heart, liver, pancreas, two kidneys, and the two corneas, all of which were to be given to patients who were waiting. Bones and skin were also taken. The mother said that the organ gifts of her son helped  her to come to terms with his death, and to remember what her son was able to do for others.

The story mentioned that Korea was still a country that finds it difficult to donate body parts after death. Korea remains very low in comparison to other countries who donate organs.  The director of the organ transplant center said that in the United States 35 out of 100 thousand donate organs; in Korea, only five out of 100 thousand donate. The director thanks the young man's parents and believes that the donation of their son's organs will help change the thinking of many Koreans.

In Korea, there are numerous patients who are waiting in hospitals for an organ transplant. Since there are not enough organs donated, many will die without the organ needed. The gift of one's organs is a wonderful, selfless act of kindness, and hopefully Korea will be able to overcome some of the traditional animosity that is associated with the donation of organs after death.
Cardinal Kim donated his cornea, which made a difference in the numbers that began giving but the numbers are still small and do not come close to helping the thousands that are waiting for organs. The editorial in the Catholic Times expressed the hope that the story of the young man will help to renew the interest of the public in donating organs so that the many  who are waiting with hope may finally have the opportunity of realizing that hope.