Award-winning philanthropist, Dr. Lee Gil Ya, will be honored by Lions Clubs International and receive the coveted Lions Clubs International Humanitarian Award. During a ceremony in Seoul, Korea on June 29, 2020, Dr. Lee Gil Ya will accept the Humanitarian Award for her lifelong dedication to medical practice, education, social justice and humanitarian service throughout her country of South Korea.
If you do not know the joy of volunteering, you do not know even the half of life.
Upon graduating from medical school and starting her own obstetrics and gynecology practice, Dr. Lee Gil Ya noticed that countless people needed medical care but were not receiving proper treatment due to high costs. She began admitting patients who could not afford to pay the deposit that other clinics demanded and offered free uterine cancer examinations to women. To keep her promise to support women’s healthcare, she still provides free uterine cancer examinations and so far, more than 130,000 women have received such care.
“Every life is a valuable life, and everyone has a right to life,” said Dr. Lee Gil Ya. “Medical services should not be limited to those who can afford it, so I have made it my mission and vision to provide everyone the opportunity to live a healthy life.”
In 1958, she founded Gachon University Gil Hospital in Incheon, which has developed into one of the largest hospitals in Korea with more than 1,500 hospital beds. Dr. Lee Gil Ya has expanded her humanitarian work worldwide. She founded the Hansen International Association of Supporters in 1993 and helped patients with Hansen’s Disease in Vietnam. She also opened a vocational school in Vietnam to support families of Vietnam veterans. Her work in Vietnam led to her work helping heart disease patients, and for over 30 years, she has provided free heart surgeries to 432 children from 17 developing countries, including Mongolia, the Philippines and Kazakhstan She also serves as chairperson for the Gachon Gil Foundation.
Dr. Lee Gil Ya is recognized by Lions Clubs International for promoting cultural development, advocating for women’s rights to education and healthcare, and providing scholarships to students seeking careers in medicine. She received numerous awards including Orders of Merit and Medals of Honor, which are given by the president of South Korea to people who "rendered distinguished services" to the country.
“I strongly believe that we should strive to make a continuous effort for not only ourselves but for others in need,” said Dr. Lee Gil Ya. “Volunteerism should be based on pure motivation to put others first. Respect for the family, neighborhood and human lives is a fundamental foundation of my practice of medicine. Regardless of region, religion or race, medical professionals should reach out with love and a spirit of volunteerism.”
Lions International President Dr. Jung-Yul Choi will be presenting the award to Dr. Lee Gil Ya. “I am looking forward to presenting this award on behalf of the more than 1.4 million Lions around the world,” he said. “Dr. Lee Gil Ya’s work is changing lives, just like Lions, and we are proud to support her and her important humanitarian efforts.”
She joins a distinguished list of prior recipients, including Mother Teresa, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Denis Mukwege.
Congratulations, Dr. Lee Gil Ya. Your legacy of humanitarian service will carry on for many generations to come.
Learn more about the Lions’ Clubs International Humanitarian Award and see our list of outstanding recipients.