Malatya comes second in the world in liver transplants

Malatya comes second in the world in liver transplants

The Central Anatolian province Malatya is not only Turkey’s, but one of the world’s most important apricot production centers. Check the origin of any dried apricot you buy abroad and it would probably be from Malatya. 

This province provides almost 80 percent of the world’s dried apricot exports. Malatya has 7.5 million apricot trees and dried apricots from these trees come to 200,000 tons.

Some 60,000 families, or one-third of the province’s population, make their living from apricots. Therefore, it is surprising that Malatya is identified with the apricot.

However, I visited the city this weekend for the 5th International Malatya Film Festival and I came across a very different fact, which was just as astonishing as the 5,000-year-old Aslantepe Mound that we visited. The rector of İnönü University, Professor Cemil Çelik, told us that the Turgut Özal Medical Center at the university was the second in the world in liver transplants from a living donor.

In this biggest liver center of Europe, the success rate in operations is between 80 percent and 85 percent, while 1,420 operations have been conducted up to now.

The cost of the operation in Malatya is only $50,000, whereas it costs $500,000 in the U.S. The reason for the flow of patients from within Turkey, as well as neighboring countries, the Balkans, Middle East and Central Asian republics, is the low cost and the high rate of success.

At the end of this year, the Turgut Özal Medical Center Liver Hospital will be opened. The 154-room capacity hospital cost 100 million Turkish Liras and will be the first hospital in the world dedicated only to one organ.

The head of the Department of Organ Transportation, Professor Sezai Yılmaz, with his miracle team, is using a new technique, which has come to be known as the “Malatya Approach” in world liver transplantation circles. The technique is one that is applied to patients in very critical condition.

“There is nobody else who knows liver transplantation from a living donor better than us,” said Yılmaz, who provides training for visiting liver experts.

I have to highlight this: The person who has facilitated Yılmaz’s work, and who has provided İnönü University with a liver transplantation center, is Professor Fatih Hilmioğlu, who spent five years of his life in prison because of the Ergenekon case.

If Malatya has become the second in the world in liver transplants, we owe this to Professor Hilmioğlu.

Meanwhile, businessmen in Malatya are supporting İnönü University to a great extent. Turkey’s largest solar energy system with 5.3 megawatt capacity will be erected at a 20-hectare field at the university.

Because the Turgut Özal Medical Center consumes electricity worth 10 million liras annually, the university is expecting to save 3.3 million liras each year with the new solar energy system.