It is easier said than done for a person to donate bone marrow to a complete stranger given the rigorous procedures that a donor has to undergo before the process is eventually carried out. But one naval officer has attracted a great deal of public attention for donating a bone marrow a couple of times to save the life of a stranger more than a decade ago.
In Min-sik, 41, lieutenant commander in the Navy who currently works at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) in Yongsan, Seoul, donated bone marrow to a female leukemia patient twice in 2000 and 2001.
His good deed became known during the DAPA's recent blood donation campaign. The belated news has since encouraged many colleagues and others to become bone marrow donors.
"I did not mean to publicize what I did more than 10 years ago. But now since it became known, I would like to encourage many people to do the same,'' In told The Korea Times. "I will continue donating bone marrow to those who need it in the future.''
The lieutenant commander signed up for the donation in 1996 when a U.S. Air Force cadet Brain Bauman, an adopted Korean suffering from chronic myelogenous leukemia, visited Korea for a bone marrow transplant.
At the time, In and many other active soldiers registered with the Korea Marrow Donor Program in a bid to save Bauman's life. The campaign to help Bauman also resulted in a flurry of new donors among civilians.
Thanks to the military-initiated donation campaign, the adopted Korean was able to find a donor, army sergeant Seo Han-guk and the process was conducted successfully.
"At the time, I really wanted to help him. But I couldn't because human leukocyte antigen was no match between us. Since then, my DNA data has been stored in the system,'' In said. "In July 2000, I got a call from the donor program that they found a female leukemia patient whose marrow matched mine. So, I donated bone marrow in 2000 and again 2001. I was really happy to save her life.''
In 2009, he was again contacted by the program but he couldn't offer bone marrow because a thorough DNA test found a slight mismatch between the donor and the recipient.
"I thank God for giving me opportunities to save precious lives. I will continue to do so as long as I can. I would like to see many people volunteer to do a good deed for others,'' said the commander who is a devout Christian.
In joined the Naval Academy in 1992 and became a second lieutenant in 1996.
Since 2006, DAPA has launched a blood donation campaign once every three months, leading to hundreds of its employees donating blood.