The surgery was made possible after the relatives of a 40-year-old man who was recently declared brain dead at İzmir's Dokuz Eylül University Hospital, after having been critically injured in a motorcycle accident on Feb. 17, decided to donate his organs.
The donor's face, whose name has not been disclosed, was given to Cengiz Gül, who suffered serious burns in a television tube explosion when he was 2 years old. An operation also began on Friday at the same hospital to transplant the donor's arms and legs to another patient.
The organs were brought to Ankara from İzmir early on Friday and doctors promptly began the surgery, which took hours, at Hacettepe University's School of Medicine Hospital in the afternoon.
Hacettepe University President told the state-run Anatolia news agency that the patient is currently under intensive care but he remains stable. He added that hours following the operation is critical so that doctors closely monitor the patient.
The surgery follows Turkey's first full-face transplant, which was performed last month at Akdeniz University Hospital in Antalya. Uğur Acar, who suffered serious burns to his face during a house fire that occurred when he was just 40 days old, underwent the successful face transplant operation last month. The transplant was made possible after the family of Ahmet Kaya, who had been declared brain dead, donated all of his organs.
Gül's relatives said his hopes of receiving a full face-transplant increased after reports of the success of Acar's operation last month. Gül's aunt, Münevver Oral, said her nephew has long wished to have a face-transplant and had contacted Hacettepe University's School of Medicine last month to inquire about the possibility.
Commenting on Friday's surgery, Health Minister Recep Akdağ said Turkey will see more successful organ transplants in the future. “We should not overlook the basic issue here, which is donations by our people,” he said. He added that Hacettepe University's hospital also has the capacity to perform other types of organ transplant surgeries.
Hacettepe University Rector Professor Murat Tuncer said the double arm and limb transplant also being performed on a patient at the university's hospital will be a first not only in Turkey but in the whole world if it proves successful. He added that both of the operations, the full face-transplant and the double arm and limb transplant, are expected to continue until midnight.
“I am proud of my colleagues who are performing the operations. I would also like to thank the Health Ministry for offering us such an opportunity. Our ministry has established a very modern system. The Health Ministry has contributed a lot to the success of organ transplants in Turkey,” he added.