Tributes paid to Turkish heart transplant pioneer, 89

Tributes have been paid to a late surgeon who performed Turkey’s first ever heart transplant operation more than 50 years ago.

Dr Kemal Bayazıt passed away on Wednesday, 26 June, aged 89 due to multiple organ failure, an announcement by a doctor at the Istanbul hospital where he was being treated said.

Sharing the sad news on his Instagram account, Prof Dr Süha Küçükaksu, of the Başkent University Hospital, said that Dr Bayazıt, who carried out Turkey’s first heart transplantation in 1968, had “touched tens of thousands of hearts” and had trained surgeons and cardiologists who had go on to “touch hundreds of thousands of hearts”.

Prof Küçükaksu said that Dr Bayazıt would “never be forgotten” for rejecting offers to stay in Britain, where he had worked alongside fellow pioneering heart surgeon Geoffrey Wooler at Leeds General Infirmary in the 1960s, because “my country needs me”.

Prof Süha Küçükaksu (left) at book launch on life of pioneering Dr. Kemal Bayazıt (right). Photo © Instagram/dskucukaksu


Referring to him as the “last emperor of the heart” – also the name of a biography he had penned about the ground-breaking surgeon – Prof Küçükaksu offered his condolences on behalf of the Turkish medical community.

Tributes were also paid by Turkish Health Minister Dr Fahrettin Koca, who wrote on Twitter of his “sadness” at the passing of Dr Bayazıt, a “pioneer in the establishment and expansion of cardiovascular surgery” in Turkey.

Dr Bayazıt’s funeral took place on Friday, 27 June), in Istanbul following a “farewell” at the Başkent University Hospital and a ceremony at the Siyami Ersek Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Centre, reports said.