Afyonkarahisar Health Sciences University (AFSU) hosted a conference on organ transplantation with wide participation. In the conference, organized by AFSU Organ and Tissue Transplantation Coordinator in the Blue Hall of the Zafer Health Complex, on “Organ Transplantation in the 21st Century”, Afyonkarahisar Provincial Health Director Exp. Dr. Serhat Korkmaz, Akdeniz University (AKDU) Prof. Dr. Tuncer Karpuzoğlu, Director of Organ Transplantation Institute and Faculty Member of AKDU Faculty of Medicine, Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery. Dr. Ömer Özkan and Religious Affairs High Council Member İdris Bozkurt each made speeches.
Afyonkarahisar Deputy Governor Mehmet Keklik, Provincial Health Directorate and Provincial Mufti administrators, Antalya Organ Transplant Coordination Center President Reha Sermed Aygören, AFSU administrators, academics and students listened to the conference. AFSU Organ and Tissue Transplant Coordinator Prof. Dr. Sezgin Yılmaz started with the opening speech in the conference.
Transplant is a Multi-Step Process with Medical, Legal, Ethical, and Religious Components
Prof. Dr. Yılmaz stated that close to 1 billion people in the world were in absolute danger of life unless a suitable organ is transplanted and noted that taking the organs of a brain-dead patient and transplanting them to another patient is a multi-step process with medical, legal, ethical and religious components.
Prof. Dr. Yılmaz expressed that the medical part of organ transplantation is carried out successfully in Turkey but there is a need for legislation that can keep up with current developments in organ transplantation and ethical regulations that will increase organ donation.Also Dr. Yılmaz said that the question of whether organ donation is religiously permissible continues to confuse people.
We Have Become a Preferable Country for Organ Transplantation
AFSU Rector Prof. Dr. Nurullah Okumuş said that 75% of the transplants are performed from living donors due to the inadequacies in organ donation from cadavers and that Turkey is the most experienced country in terms of the number of transplants made from living donors per million population in his speech. Prof. Dr. Okumuş stated that our country is in an advanced position in organ transplantation, as in many areas of health services and expressed that we have become a preferred country in organ transplantation.
Prof. Dr. Okumuş expressed that in order to increase the number of donors and to resolve the grievances of patients waiting for urgent donations, campaigns based on science and social facts should be developed and continued persistently. Dr. Okumuş also said that there is a serious need for health sector experts to demonstrate an effective and reassuring approach for this.
Prof. Dr. Okumuş expressed that he thinks that in order to raise awareness about organ donation, benefiting from educational activities that inform the public, correct posts on social media, messages given in television series and the strong support of the press will have meaningful results. Dr. Okumuş also said: “Each organ donation is a real gift, an extraordinary blessing for the individuals who live on the occasion of that donation; in my personal opinion, it is like a permanent charity with a lot of rewards for donors. I wonder whether it is possible to describe the importance, value and, more importantly, the happiness of offering a brand new life and future to a person you have never met, or vice versa, when a person you do not know offers you a brand new life or a future? And I would like to state that as for now, 25,000 people listen to a news every day to experience this happiness and continue to wait with hope.”
Individuals Donate Organs, Families Reject
Afyonkarahisar Provincial Health Director, Dr. Serhat Korkmaz conveyed information about the surgical dimension of organ transplantation, as well as international, national and local statistics in his speech accompanied by a presentation. Dr. Yılmaz pointed out that the rejection rate of individuals who have donated organs in Turkey after their death is as high as 73.3%, and for this reason, Korkmaz said that the cadaver donation per million population in our country is at a low level of 5.1%. He stated that only 20% of organ transplants in Turkey can be made from cadavers and noted that this rate is around 80% in the USA and European countries.
Dr. Korkmaz shared the information that in 2020, the consent of organ transplantation was limited to 263 people in Turkey and 2 people in our province in 1391 cases of brain death in Turkey and 5 cases of brain death in Afyonkarahisar. Dr.Korkmaz said that in the same year, living organ donations were 25,408 in Turkey and 146 in Afyonkarahisar, and that the total number of patients waiting for transplantation in the region, including our province, was 3319. Dr. Korkmaz also added: “Since 2011, the number of brain deaths in Afyonkarahisar is 60, and only 10 of them had permission from their families. In the last 5 years, only 7 of the 29 brain deaths in our province had family consent and the number of organs taken was 31. The number of surviving volunteer donors in Afyonkarahisar is 2554.”
There will be no need for organ transplantation from animals in the future
AKDU Faculty of Medicine, Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery Lecturer Prof. Dr. Ömer Özkan stated that organ transplants from cadavers should be done as much as possible without the need for living things, and emphasized the importance of explaining brain death to people correctly. He stated that he thinks that thanks to the studies done, there will be no need for organs to be taken from animals and transplanted to humans in the future. Prof. Dr. Özkan said, “The artificial organ can be developed on stem cells in the laboratory; I believe that maybe one day, the kidney or liver you need can be produced in a bag, in a beautiful container.” said.
Prof. Dr. Özkan pointed out that we have the Ministry of Health that hosts the best organization in the World and continued his words as follows: “Let me say this clearly. Our Ministry of Health provides probably the most social health service in the world. But you should know that we have the most organized and disciplined rules in the world at every stage. The disciplines of organ transplantation have been determined since its very early stages. Who can make these transfers, who can’t, to whom they can be made, and to whom they cannot be made… The financial aspects are completely undertaken by the state.
There are significant developments in organ transplantation. This is the best until the organ is produced. We have to do organ transplants so that people can live, so that they don’t die a week later. We must ensure that transplantation is carried out from cadavers, without needing living things as much as possible. For this reason, we all have a responsibility. Here that hurt us the most are the negative news in the press. Or we should emphasize that things like organ trafficking is not possible in our country, which happens a lot, especially in Far East TV series, and there may be exceptions, but we have to emphasize that there are significant penalties.”
No Barriers to Organ Transplant on the Condition of Complying with Religious and Moral Sensitivities
The last speaker of the event, Idris Bozkurt, Member of the High Council of Religious Affairs of the DIB, said that our country does not have any problems in terms of scientific and technical infrastructure regarding organ transplantation, but that there are some superstitious obstacles in front of the need for transplantation, which are based on inaccurate but fabricated assumptions. He emphasized that organ transplantation is permissible provided that religious and moral sensitivities are respected. Bozkurt also pointed out that the permissive decision of the Presidency of Religious Affairs was taken on 03.03.1980.
Bozkurt reminded that not only Islam, but all monotheistic religions command that life, property, generation, mind and religion be secured and he said, “Then, religion or our values cannot be an obstacle to organ transplantation. Not only in our country, but also all religious authorities in the world, all fiqh academies have allowed organ transplantation and even support donations.” said.
The event ended with the presentation of plaques to the speakers.