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Korean J Transplant 2021; 35(3): 137-142

Published online September 30, 2021


© The Korean Society for Transplantation

Improving self-sufficiency in organ transplantation in Korea

Curie Ahn1,2 , Samuel Lee3 , Yeong Hoon Kim4 , Jieun Oh5 , Ik Jin Yun6 , Hyung Joon Ahn7 , Soo Hyun Seo2 , Jong Cheol Jeong8 , Myung Soo Kim9 , Jongwon Ha10 , Soon Il Kim9 , In Sung Moon11 , Won Hyun Cho12

1Division of Nephrology, National Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
2Vitallink, Seoul, Korea
3Department of Surgery, KangNam Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
4Division of Nephrology, Inje University Busan Paik Hospital, Busan, Korea
5Department of Internal Medicine, Hallym University Kangnam Sacred Heart Hospital, Seoul, Korea
6Department of Surgery, Konkuk University Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
7Department of Surgery, Kyung Hee University Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
8Division of Nephrology, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Korea
9Department of Surgery, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
10 Department of Surgery, Transplantation Research Institute, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
11Korea Organ Donation Agency, Seoul, Korea
12Department of Surgery, Keimyung University School of Medicine, Daegu, Korea

Correspondence to: Curie Ahn
Division of Nephrology, National Medical Center, 245 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul 04564, Korea
Tel: +82-2-2276-2143
Fax: +82-2-6455-2149
E-mail: curie@snu.ac.kr

Received: September 10, 2021; Revised: September 24, 2021; Accepted: September 24, 2021

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.


After attaining a qualified medical capacity in organ transplantation, Korea has been struggling to increase the number of deceased organ transplants to reach self-sufficiency. As one of these efforts, Korea revised the organ transplantation law in 2010 by adding three articles the mandatory reporting based on the recommendation of the 3rd Global Consultation on Organ Transplantation of Madrid in 2010. Along with the new constitution, considerable efforts have been initiated to upgrade the deceased organ transplantation system while maintaining the virtues of fairness, justice, and transparency. The Korean Society of Transplantation played a critical role in revising the law as well as in establishing organizations such as the Korean Organ Donation Agency (KODA; 2009), the Vitallink (2009), and the Korean Organ Transplantation Registry (KOTRY; 2010). By the activities of these professional organizations, Korea could implement fundamental programs such as mandatory reporting and could develop various education programs for organ donation for students and the general population. As a result, the number of deceased donors increased from 1.08 p.m.p. (2000) to 9.23 p.m.p.(2020). Further efforts are needed to increase the number of organ donor cardholders and family consent rates by well-designed, target-specific education programs to overcome traditional negative cultural barriers toward organ donation. The community atmosphere of honoring and thanking donors and their families should be nurtured by national and regional activities of life-sharing weeks linked with organ donor memorial parks.

Keywords: Korean organ transplantation, Deceased organ transplantation, Self-sufficiency, Organ donation

  • Legislation and establishment of a national transplantation organization, Korean Network for Organ Sharing (KONOS).

  • The National Independent Organ Procurement Organization, Korean Organ Donation Agency (KODA).

  • Involvement of the intensive care unit and emergency room for early notification of potential brain death donors.

  • Reducing family refusal through “my family should know about my wish” campaign.

  • High-school and medical school education program for organ donation with Vitallink.

  • Establishing a National Transplantation Database Korean Organ Transplantation Registry (KOTRY) for Objective Monitoring.