Need a transplant of a face, womb, legs or arms? Come to Turkey, where university hospitals are trying their best to help you out. You might lose your limbs again or even your life following the procedure, but then at least you can be sure the doctors were able to get more experience while they were practicing on you.
Sorry for being cynical here, but I’m just flabbergasted by the news. A 34 year old man from the southern city of Antalya, Atilla Kavdir, died this week after a medical team in the Antalya university hospital sewed two donated arms to his body. ‘Arm transplant’, it was called. The doctor leading the medical team, Prof. Ömer Özkan, appeared on TV saying it was unfortunate the patient died but that as a medical team they had gained valuable experience. Sounds to me like human beings are used as guinea pigs here.
Two arms, two legs
It gets even weirder when you know that another limb transplant patient died this year, at another university hospital. They sewed two arms and two legs onto the man in one huge operation. His body rejected them all, so they had to take them off again and the man lost his life. After that, an investigation into the matter was conducted by the Ministry of Health. Detail: the investigation also focuses on rumours that the two doctors, trained at the same hospital at the same time, are competing in some kind of spectacular transplant contest.
Prof. Ömer Özkan is an award-winning doctor. He is surrounded by an aura of successfulness in a new field. It’s about time to look beyond the successful image. Pending the outcome of the investigation into the earlier case and into this case – I at least assume the Ministry and also the hospital will want to get to the bottom of this – Ömer Özkan should go home and not perform any surgery. In the meantime all spectacular transplants should be put on hold, as of course should have been done already after the earlier death.
Medicine is not about winning awards, it’s not about making headlines with spectacular transplants and great marketing for your hospital, it’s about the health and the lives of human beings. Any doctor losing sight of that should be thrown out of the profession.