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Editorial, The Korea Times, Sept 13, 2005
Campaign for Donation of Human Organs Ought to Be Promoted
Seoul, South Korea -- There are some people who become immortal because of their dedication and sacrifice for the cause of humanity. One such person is Ven. Bub Jang, head of the Chogye Order, the nation's largest Buddhist sector, who died of a heart failure on Sunday. The 64-year-old Buddhist leader earned immortality with his body donated to a college hospital supported by the Chogye Order on Monday.
<< Ven. Bub Jang, the first Buddhist leader to donate his body to science
His body was scheduled to be cremated at a temple in the countryside, following the long traditions of Buddhism. The transfer of his body to the hospital was made in accordance with his oath in the 1980s that he would donate his organs to help patients in need. However, his sudden death from a heart attack while recovering from cardiovascular surgery made it impossible to remove his organs on time.
Ven. Bub Jang, the first Buddhist leader to donate his body to science, demonstrated his lifetime pursuit and observance of the teachings of Buddha that monks ought to not only train steadfast toward enlightenment but also help ordinary people follow the right path in life. His final act of giving his body for the benefit of society moves all, let alone the profound grief felt by lay Buddhists, monks and nuns.
Now, all of us are obliged to cherish his noble sacrifice. We should campaign for the donation of human organs and bodies to save patients and help medical students. An increasing number of patients may die unless they are transplanted with healthy organs and medical students cannot experiment because of the shortage of bodies.
Even though all of us ought to take part in the campaign, leaders in all sectors of society need to lead the van. A substantial number of them already made oaths and signed contracts to donate their organs in such campaigns sporadically launched by civic organizations.
However, the general public is skeptical that their promises will be kept. Their distrust is understandable because most of them have broken their pledges, including the vow to cremate their bodies, without showing a tiny morsel of compunction. If their promises to cremate their bodies were faithfully honored by their families, our funeral system would have been already improved to the extent that the use of land for gravesides is drastically curbed. In this vein, Ven. Bub Jang deserves unstinted respect and praise for his keeping the oath at the expense of Buddhist traditions.
In the meantime, the government needs to consider providing various benefits, such as tax favors, to the families of those whose organs or bodies were donated, in order to encourage others to follow suit.