Mesude Erşan - BURSA
Turkey’s northwestern province of Bursa has surpassed national hospitals in Turkey and European countries with its exceeding rates of organ donor supplies and transplant operations, as its hospitals have carried out well-organized awareness initiatives for health sector employees and the public who were hesitant or had limited knowledge about the life-saving operations.
Bursa supplies the highest number of corpses in organ transplants as it also leads in the number of organ transplant operations carried out in Turkey. While in 2009 the supply rate for a million patients was 1.8 corpses, this number rose to 22 in 2016.
Bursa Provincial Health Directorate head, Özcan Akan, said the first step taken for this success was the initiative carried out to create awareness in organ transplants.
He said for those who were hesitant due to religious reasons, Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate issued a fatwa in 2012 and its employees were educated to inform that the practice was approved. In mosques, sermons ruled that the operations would not breech Islamic laws. All unions, nurses associations, political parties, youth and women branches were visited and were asked for endorsements. Pamphlets, brochures and films were prepared to inform the public about it.
Meanwhile, health services personnel also underwent major training, and emergency services doctors, nurses and 112 emergency line employees were educated about the process. The executives of health centers were convinced that organ transplants required team work. Events were carried out by centers to inform the different stages of organ transplants, explaining the processes of receiving the organ, its carriage and its transfer.
After meticulous works by health centers and health directorate offices, the gap between Bursa and other provinces in Turkey started to widen in 2014. In 2016, Bursa was able to supply 22 corpses for 1 million people while its follower, İzmir, stood at 10.8 corpses.
Patients registered at transplant centers in Bursa are two times more likely to receive organ transplants than patients in other parts of Turkey, according to recent data.
Yavuz Selim Çınar, the regional responsible for organ transplants in Bursa, stressed that the success was the outcome of a very serious team work and major effort.
“We were lucky when we created our team, intensive care unit staff, doctors and nurses were tasked with the coordination of the process. In all successful examples around the world, this is the case. Many of our hospitals in the region supply donor corpses much above the average in the whole of Turkey. There are times when three donors can supply in a single day. For example, the public hospital in the Bandırma district, which has a population of 100,000, supplied 12 donors last year. The role of the use of social media and cooperation with local press agencies is also huge,” said Çınar.
Bursa’s Çekirge Public Hospital Chief Doctor, Kayhan Sonkur, said their hospital is not only leading in Bursa but also in the country in the supply of corpse donors.
Transplant coordinators of the hospital, Timur Didinen and Tamara Uzun Bal, have supplied more corpse donors than the sum of some European countries.
Didinen who has been serving as an organ transplant coordinator for seven years said team work was “everything.”
“The success is about the team. From anesthesia experts to cleaners, everybody is aware of this job. Since we have a high awareness of brain death cases in patients, in 49 brain death incidents, we have supplied 31 donors. We demand organ donation from relatives of patients whose brain deaths occurred,” said Didinen, noting their good relations with patients’ relatives.
Saying that patients were being treated very well in the hospital, Didinen added that after patient deaths, no family had accused them of not treating their patients well or questioned why they asked for their relatives’ organs.
In Turkey, there are nine regional coordination centers that are linked to the National Organ and Tissue Transplantation Coordination Center in Ankara
and regional coordinators are tasked with updating the center about the supply of corpse donors whenever they find them, while the center deals with the allocation of organs across Turkey.
In organ transplant, Bursa’s Uludağ University Medicine Faculty Hospital leads Turkey in the highest number of operations carried out.
The number of supply of corpses acquired in Bursa in 2016 surpassed many European countries. While only Bursa has 22 corpses supplied for one million people, England, which leads Europe, supplied 20.3 corpses per one million people.