Mother listens to dead son’s heart beating in another body
Twenty-six-year-old Iliya Zilkov died after brain surgery in Istanbul in 2017. Following the young man’s death, his parents decided to donate his organs.
One of the recipients was Hakan Ok, a 27-year-old man, who had been waiting in the intensive care unit of a hospital for seven months for a suitable donor for the heart transplant operation. Zilkov’s heart was transplanted to Ok.
Almost one year after the operation, Plamena Zhekova, Iliya’s mother and Boyan Zhekov, the man’s father, traveled to Istanbul to meet Ok.
The Bulgarian family and the Turkish man met at a hospital in Istanbul’s Koşuyolu neighborhood where the transplant operation was performed.
Zhekova burst into tears when she saw the Turkish man.
“Since the day we agreed to donate his heart, I have been dreaming about this meeting. I have always wondered who the recipient was and prayed for him,” Zhekova said.
The mother listened to her deceased son’s heart beating in Ok’s chest with a stethoscope.
“My son had such a good heart. If anything was transmitted to Ok, it would be this ‘goodness.’ My son was a good person,” Zhekov said, adding that organ donation should be encouraged.
“I had difficult times back then when I was waiting for my turn for the transplant operation. I was lucky but I had lost many friends who were on the waiting list,” Ok said.
He said he was deeply grateful to Zilkov’s family. “They gave me a new life,” he said.
In 2018, a total of 70 hear transplant operations were performed, according to Mehmet Kaan Kırali, the chief physician at the hospital where Ok had the transplant surgery.
“This is so few. I wish we had had at least 200-300 transplant operations,” Kırali said.