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Donated blood identifies the war dead

Donated blood identifies the war dead


30 billion won of budget reduction is expected every decade with higher accuracy of DNA testing in time of emergency.


A system that identifies the war dead with donated blood in a time of emergency is being built up by a collaboration among MND, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Korea Red Cross. According to this, an identification system that has depended on identification tags (serial number chains) since the Armed Forces was established is upgraded into a high-tech scientific system based on genes.


On January 15, MND said, “We enter into a joint agreement on January 16 in which some donated blood samples stored at the blood center are going to be provided for identifying the war dead, and the military will actively participate in blood donations.”


“With this action, we can prevent the difficult situation of identifying the war dead or the soldiers who died in the course of their duty in advance. Also it represents much to us to get a foothold to treat them with utmost respect,” said MND.


The military have mostly been using the identification system with the identification tags; however, as the identification rate of those killed in 6·25 Korean War is 4.4%, there is a certain limit to identifying them accurately. Thus, complicated follow-up actions should be done during the recovery operation, such as sampling genes and an identification process of the family of the deceased.


For this reason, MND has prepared for the identification of soldiers by taking blood samples and storing them for about 40,000 military personnel who would greatly require the identification process in an emergency such as soldiers dispatched overseas, pilots, submarine crewmembers and warship crews,


However, the budget and manpower have prevented the extension of this system to the entire military. MND estimates over 30 billion won of budget and around 20 people to conduct sampling of the blood and managing it every decade, when we store DNA samples of all active officers, military personnel and civilian employees of the military for identification.


MND turned to the blood samples that the Korea Red Cross stores. These 5cc amounts of blood are separately kept for tracing diseases when donating blood. The Korea Red Cross samples the blood of 250,000 people every year and stores the samples for 10 years to check the transfusion reaction.


MND paid attention to the high record of blood donation of the military soldiers as of 2013, reaching 411,930 cases, and made this joint agreement in which donated blood samples would be used for identification of the military soldiers with the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korea Red Cross.


“Relevant government departments didn’t understand well the need of this project at first, however, they eventually developed sympathy because of the current atmosphere of emphasizing cooperation and the rational explanation and persuasion of MND. This is not only a case of budget and manpower reduction in accordance with efficient use of resources between the government departments but also an exemplary example of cooperation and communication the present government stresses,” said the MND official.


By Byung-Lyuen, Kim < >
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