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Tragic death brings gift of life – QNS.com

Tragic death brings gift of life

As one family mourns the loss of a daughter, it simultaneously celebrates a second lease on life for a son.
When Sunyun Lee died recently of an unexpected cerebral aneurysm, her kidneys saved the life of her 38-year-old brother, Seung Hoon Lee.
Seung, a Flushing resident, was diagnosed with advanced kidney disease in November 2007. At his sister’s insistence, he began dialysis treatment while he waited for a kidney to be found for him.
“She became like a mother to me,” he said in Korean. Sunyun, 46, cared for her brother and accompanied him to all his dialysis treatments.
On January 16, Sunyun suddenly suffered a stroke that left her brain dead.
“She was not expected to survive,” said Peter Walker, medical director of North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.
Just days later, on January 21, with the consent of the family, both of Sunyun’s kidneys were successfully transplanted to save her brother’s life.
Walker called the occasion “a bittersweet moment,” adding that though there is mourning for the sister, “We rejoice in the fact that now [Seung] can have a thoroughly normal life.”
According to statistics, there are nearly 6,000 people in the New York metropolitan area waiting for kidneys, with an average wait time of seven years. Nationally, approximately 100,000 people are on the waiting list for kidneys, and 6,000 die each year waiting.
Seung was one of the first transplant patients in the New York area to receive two kidneys from a deceased relative.
Full of emotion, Seung said that though he feels good, he misses his sister, adding that he is still in disbelief.
Seung and Sunyun turned out to be a 100 percent match.
Madhu Bhaskaran, medical director of the transplant program at North Shore University Hospital, said this is an amazing fact. Also amazing was the success of this “insurmountable if not impossible” task, Bhaskaran said.
He continued by explaining that it takes tremendous time and consultation before an organ can be donated and a transplant performed. However, it was all achieved in a matter of hours in this case.
“I wish no family to have this tragedy, but if they do, I wish they have the same courage,” Bhaskaran said.
Seung was released from the hospital just 72 hours following the surgery. He says after spending some time to heal and recover, he hopes to live on and return to work as a deliveryman.
“I think of her as a hero,” said Christopher Park, Sunyun’s 14-year-old son. “She was very caring for everyone else, but too busy to care for herself.”
Park said that the events have brought his family closer together. He added, “When I’m with my uncle, I feel her with me.”

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