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Austrian former nurse of Korean leprosy patients dies at age 88

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Margaret Pissarek, an Austrian nurse who served Hansen's disease patients for about 40 years on South Korea's Sorok Island, is seen in this 2017 file photo provided by Korean Rev. Franciscus Kim Yeon-jun, Sept. 30. Yonhap,

A former Austrian nurse, who spent about 40 years taking care of Korean leprosy patients on the remote island of Sorok, has died in her home country at age 88, officials said Saturday.

Margaret Pissarek died of sudden cardiac arrest at a hospital in the Austrian city of Innsbruck on Friday, while she was receiving treatment for a broken femur, according to Rev. Franciscus Kim Yeon-jun.

Born in 1935 in Poland, she graduated from a nursing school in Innsbruck and came to Korea in 1966 to serve Hansen's disease patients at the National Sorok Island Hospital in the southwestern county of Goheung for 39 years without pay.

She returned home in 2005 as her health deteriorated, saying she did not want to be a burden to people here.

"She expressed her will to donate her body for medical research, and the funeral procedures are yet to be fixed," the father said.

Pissarek had been with Marianne Stoeger, who came here in 1962 as a volunteer nurse for patients on the island and also returned home in 2005.

Korea conferred the two former nurses with medals several times, and gave them honorary citizenship. Kim and the government of South Jeolla Province had been working on a campaign to nominate them for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Yonhap)


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