Lee Sung-gyu, a 59-year-old surgeon at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, and his surgery team are likely to set a new world record for the most liver transplant operations in a year.
The team completed their 319th liver transplant surgery this year at around 1 a.m. on Christmas Day, after an operation on a 46-year-old female hepatocirrhosis patient that transplanted sections of livers from her daughter and brother-in-law.
Transplanting livers from two people to one person is one of the most difficult liver operations to perform. In this case, the surgery lasted 17 hours.
Lee's team has three more cases scheduled on Wednesday, the last day of the year, so his team looks likely to set the new world record, with 322 cases, surpassing their own, previous world record of 320 cases from just last year. The team conducted liver transplants, which normally take from 10 to 18 hours each, every day of the year except for Sundays. They spent 4,500 hours or 190 days in the operating room. Their success rate is 95 percent. "This record was possible because of a significant increase in the number of organ donors after boxer Choi Yo-sam set an example early this year," said Lee.
On Dec. 23, the U.S. broadcasting company ABC News introduced Lee's team as Korea's Dream Team. ABC News reported that this record was made possible because all the team members -- surgeons, anesthetists and nurses alike -- contributed strong, committed teamwork around Lee, somewhat resembling the country's patriarchal family culture.