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Long organ transplant waiting period causing 5.2 deaths per day: agency

Welfare/Medicine 09:36 July 09, 2019

SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's long organ transplant waiting period has resulted in the deaths of 5.2 people per day in 2018, up twofold from eight years earlier, a state-run health agency said Tuesday.

The development is causing a sharp increase in people waiting to get a transplant and a drop in people offering to donate their organs, which is making it harder for people to receive treatment on time, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

As of 2018, there were 30,544 people waiting for a transplant, up from 14,595 in 2010, while those expressing a desire to donate their organs dropped to 108,016 from 201,359 over the cited period.

In 2010, 962 people died while waiting for a transplant with this number soaring to 1,910 in 2018, the KCDC said.

To address the mismatch in the number of donors and recipients, there is a need to adopt a so-called opt-out system in regards to donations, according to experts. The system views people who have not made clear their intent not to donate their organs as having "implicitly" agreed to do so.

This practice is employed in many European countries, while in South Korea an "opt-in" system is adopted so that the harvesting of organs is only possible with prior consent.

In addition, due to traditional taboos, objections from relatives have made it hard to harvest organs. Data showed that in 2018, only 35 percent of relatives agreed to a transplant down from 52 percent in 2014.

This image provided by the KCDC shows the number of people who have died waiting for an organ transplant. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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