pISSN 2671-8790 eISSN 2671-8804


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Korean J Transplant 2019; 33(4): 83-97

Published online December 31, 2019


© The Korean Society for Transplantation

Organ donation in Korea in 2018 and an introduction of the Korea national organ donation system

Won-Hyun Cho

Korea Organ Donation Agency, Seoul, Korea

Correspondence to: Won-Hyun Cho
Korea Organ Donation Agency, #36, Choongjung-ro 133-gil,Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 03741, Korea
Tel: +82-2-542-5632, Fax: +82-2-3447-5631 E-mail: wh51cho@gmail.com

Received: July 22, 2019; Revised: November 12, 2019; Accepted: November 16, 2019

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A total of 1,503 solid organs were procured from 449 deceased donors in 2018. Although the number of donors was down by 12.8% from the previous year (8.7 per million population), the number of organs procured per donor increased from 3.29 in 2017 to 3.35 in 2018. While the causes of brain death by cerebrovascular diseases and head trauma from traffic accidents have declined, brain damage from hypoxia has increased slightly. The most prominent change in the decline of organ donations was a decrease in family consent (36.5% in 2018 vs. 42.9% in 2017). The disagreement over organ donations by other family members even extended beyond the next of kin, and the restriction of organ donations in connection with the suspension of end-of-life care partly affected the consent rate, making this a controversial social issue. An accurate analysis regarding the factors causing the decline of familial consent rates is required, and related organizations along with the government should make a unified concerted effort to resolve this issue. To help achieve this goal, this manuscript describes the transplantation process and briefly explains the Korean domestic organ donation system.

Keywords: Brain death, Organ donation, Organ procurement organization, End of life care