Officials to cooperate on organ donations

Officials to cooperate on organ donations

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish officials will cooperate to avoid prosecutors’ prevention of organ donations, in the wake of a recent incident in which a prosecutor refused to allow a donation and assigned policemen to guard the patient’s bedside, despite the assent of family and doctors.

The Ministry of Health and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) will take necessary measures so that such incidents will not be repeated, a ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News on Nov. 9.

The decision came after a public prosecutor in Kocaeli province’s Gebze district prevented the organ donation of 11-year-old Melike Yıldırım by her parents after she was pronounced brain-dead, creating devastation among potential recipients on waiting lists.

Melike Yıldırım was severely injured in a car accident and two days after the accident, on Sept. 15, a delegation of four doctors unanimously pronounced her brain-dead. Her parents were told that they could donate their daughter’s organs, and consented to this.

As the diagnosis was the result of a traffic accident, the Office of the Gebze Public Prosecutor was informed and prosecutor Mustafa Aksu came to the hospital, declaring that the brain-dead diagnosis by four doctors was not a “death decision.” The prosecutor did not allow the organs to be transplanted or an autopsy performed until “actual death” occurred. “This is a legal case, you cannot transplant the organs,” he reportedly insisted.

The prosecutor also assigned two policemen to supervise the intensive care unit for “actual death.” The policemen then waited at the patient’s bedside until her heart stopped beating.

Officals cannot convince

Meanwhile, several officials from the Health Ministry as well as organ donation coordinators could not convince the prosecutor that a “brain-dead” diagnosis was valid and that all procedures were legal.
Teams that arrived at the hospital for organ transplantation left and, as expected, Melike’s heart stopped a short while later.

“The prosecutor cannot act as a doctor; he cannot decide on death. His insistence that ‘No, she has not died,’ is an abuse of his position. Actually it is a crime. His duty is to save lives in this case,” said Professor Hakan Hakeri, an expert on medical law.

Ata Bozoklar, the organ donation coordinator of Bilim University, told the private broadcaster CNN Türk that prosecutors should be informed by medical staff in order to prevent the recurrence of such cases, as many prosecutors are not familiar with the current legislation on transplants.