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American woman offers her organs to Koreans

’Charitable act’ a valuable lesson in a multi-cultural society, priest says

  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • January 26, 2011
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A Protestant American teacher, diagnosed with brain death, donated her organs to give Koreans “new lives.”

Linda R. Freel, a 52-year-old teacher at the International Christian School in Uijeongbu, donated her liver, kidneys, corneas and skin tissue, officials at St. Mary’s Hospital in Seoul said yesterday during their press release, after receiving consent from Rex Freel, Linda’s husband who is the school’s director.

The hospital said Freel is the first case for a Westerner to donate their organs to Koreans. There have been a Filipino, a Chinese and a Japanese, who donated their organs, they said.

The Freels came to Korea 14 years ago and have been working at the Christian school.

“She (Linda R. Freel) gave ‘valuable lessons’ to our multi-cultural society,” Father Casimir Song Yul-sup, secretary of the Korean Bishops’ Pro-Life Activities, told ucanews.com today. He said the Catholic Church welcomes organ donations from brain-dead patients.

Yang Chul-woo, director of the hospital’s Organ Transplant Center, said the families of brain-dead patients in Korea usually hesitate to agree to transplanting the organs at the final stage of life, even though patients may have expressed their will to do so.

The transplant of Freel’s organs took place immediately, Yang said.

Two patients suffering from a kidney disease received each of her kidney, another patient the liver and two others her corneas. The skin tissue is to be used for those who suffer from severe burns, Yang said.

Yang also noted that “While 35 patients among 1 million donate their organs in the United States, only five donate in Korea.”

Hopefully Freel’s organ donation would lead others to follow suit, he said.

According to St. Mary’s Hospital, organ transplants can be done regardless of race, as long as the tissues match.

Related report
Organ donations surge on Korean Church drive

KO13036.1638
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