Health Ministry cautious on new face transplants

Health Ministry cautious on new face transplants

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Health Ministry cautious on new face transplants

Since the Health Ministry’s regulation about composite tissue transplantations, four face transpant operations have been conducted by Turkish universities. AA photo

urkey’s Ministry of Health, which has closely followed the four face transplantations done so far in Turkey, is approaching new face transplants with caution.

The Health Ministry’s Health Services Director General, İrfan Şencan, said that face, arm and leg transplants are not for saving lives, but to increase the quality of life, adding that there are also social and rehabilitative dimensions to such operations along with medical aspects. “So far, any problem regarding the surgical operations has not been detected. However, the medical treatments and rehabilitation processes of the patients are ongoing,” Şencan said.

Şencan said the rehabilitation period could last for a year. “We want to observe the one-year period after the operation. We aren’t preventing new transplants but do not support them, either,” he said, adding that they had followed the four patients who underwent face transplant operations since the beginning of the process. “We are trying to strike a balance and behave cautiously about new transplants,” Şencan said.

Hacettepe incident

Şencan said they had implemented the decision of the Ankara Regional Administrative Court, which had decided to return Hacettepe University Medical Faculty’s license for composite tissue transplantation.

 “We returned the license, but Hacettepe cannot conduct a new transplant, because the Science Board canceled the faculty’s operation authorization, and the license was canceled for that reason. The court only decided on the cancellation of the license. The Science Board’s decision to cancel the operation authorization is still valid. Even though the faculty had a license, it may not do a new transplant since they don’t have operation authorization; we informed the university’s administration about it,” Şencan said.

Şencan said it was not possible for the faculty to have a waiting list of face transplant patients.
After the Health Ministry’s regulation about composite tissue transplantations, face transplantations began to be conducted successively.

The first face transplantation in Turkey was conducted on Uğur Acar on Jan. 21 at Akdeniz University Medical Faculty. The second one was on Cengiz Gül on Feb. 24 at Hacettepe University Medical Faculty.

Hatice Nergis was the third patient to undergo the operation on March 17 at Gazi University Medical Faculty and Turan Çolak was the latest one on May 15 at Akdeniz University Medical Faculty.

Meanwhile, Şevket Çavdar, to whom two arms and two legs were transplanted at Hacettepe University Medical Faculty, and Atilla Kavdır, to whom two arms and one leg were transplanted at Akdeniz University Medical Faculty, lost their lives.

The Health Ministry’s Composite Tissue Transplantation Science Board approved the face transplantations at the Gazi and Akdeniz universities, while it determined that the face transplant conducted at Hacettepe University was outside of specifications.

Also, the Science Board determined that the arm transplants at Akdeniz University were conducted within the scope of specifications, but the leg transplant did not conform to the criteria on the specification list. The board warned the university about that.

The board also found that the arm and leg transplants at Hacettepe University were outside of specifications, so it canceled the faculty’s license.

The first double-arm transplantation in Turkey was conducted on Cihan Topal at Akdeniz University Hospital on Sept. 25, 2010.