This study aimed to estimate the numbers of foreign patients seeking organ transplantation (OT) in Korea and to examine the relationship between the trend of deceased donors in Korea and number of Korean patients seeking OT overseas since 2000.Methods
Data on foreigners who received a transplant in Korea were obtained from the Korean Network for Organ Sharing. Data on overseas transplants were obtained from 42 transplant centers surveyed through transplant coordinators.Results
A total of 336 foreigners underwent OT (kidney transplantation [KT], 174; liver transplantation [LT], 162) in Korea between 2006 and 2016. The Mongolians were the most common foreigners who undergo KTs (32%), followed by the Chinese (18%), Americans (9%), and Emiratis (7%). Among foreigners undergoing LTs, the most common country of origin was Mongolia (39%), followed by United Arab Emirates (23%), China (13%), and the United States (6%). A total of 2206 Korean patients underwent overseas OT (KT, 977; LT, 1229) between 2000 and 2016. In 97% of overseas KT cases (n = 942) and 98% (n = 1205) of overseas LT cases, the transplantations were performed in China. The relationship between the number of deceased donors in Korea and the number of overseas transplants after 2006 indicates a highly negative correlation. (ρ = −0.988, P < 0.001).Conclusions
This analysis of trends in Korean patients seeking OT overseas demonstrates the importance of multilateral approaches to address organ trafficking. National effort to achieve self-sufficiency by increasing activities for organ donations is one of the fundamental solutions to transplant tourism.