Mehmet Haberal

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Mehmet Haberal, MD, FACS (Hon), FICS (Hon), FASA (Hon)

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In 1975, Mehmet Haberal performed the first living-related kidney transplant in Turkey. Alongside his active career in organ transplantation and burn treatment, he was an early participant in the move to create private non-profit higher education institutions in Turkey by establishing Başkent University. Though established in Ankara, the university is known throughout the country for its medical school, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and dialysis centers.

Haberal was born on October 29, 1944, in Pazar, Rize Province, Turkey. Surgeon and professor of Surgery, he trained at Ankara University in Turkey. He completed his fellowship in burns at the Shriners Burn Institute and John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, Texas (1973)1 before training under Prof. Thomas Starzl at the Colorado University Medical School Transplantation Center, Denver (Jan. 1974 – June 1975).2 He then returned to Turkey where he inaugurated the field of organ transplantation in the country.

Education and Degrees[edit]

· M.D.; Ankara University Medical School, Ankara, Turkey, 19673

· General Surgeon certification; Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey, 19714

· Post-Specialty Training: Texas and Colorado, 1973-1975

Honorary Doctorates[edit]

· University of Karachi, Karachi-Pakistan, 2006

· Azerbaijan Medical University, Baku-Azerbaijan, 2006

· Universidad de Ciencias Empresariales y Sociales, Buenos Aires-Argentina, 2014

· Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, Bishkek-Kyrgyzstan, 2014

Transplantation Firsts5[edit]

In addition to Turkey’s very first kidney transplant in 1975, Professor Haberal’s transplantation firsts include the following:

· First deceased-donor kidney transplant in Turkey, 1978

· First domestic deceased-donor kidney transplant in Turkey, 1979

· He performed successful deceased-donor kidney transplants with a cold ischemia time of 111 hours, a first in the medical literature, 19836

· First successful deceased-donor liver transplant in Turkey, the Middle East and Northern Africa, 1988

· First organ harvesting and sharing programs in different cities of Turkey, 1989

· First pediatric segmental living-related liver transplantation in Turkey, the region, and Europe, 1990

· First adult segmental living-related liver transplantation in the world, 1990

· First combined liver-kidney transplantation from a living-related donor, the first operation of its kind anywhere in the world, 1992

Academic Appointments and Achievements[edit]

On being certified in general surgery in 1971, Haberal was appointed Assistant Professor at Hacettepe University in Ankara, where he also became Associate Professor in 1976 and full professor in 1982.

In 1993, under the aegis of the Turkish Organ Transplantation and Burn Foundation and the Haberal Education Foundation, he founded the non-profit Başkent University7 in Ankara and served as its first rector. The university has not only established hospitals and a physical therapy and rehabilitation center in various neighborhoods in Ankara, but also hospitals, outpatient clinics and dialysis centers in several other cities, including Adana, Alanya, Iskenderun, Istanbul, Izmir, Konya, Şanliurfa, Tokat, Yalova, and Zonguldak.

Başkent University Ayşe Abla Colleges (pre-school through high school) have been opened in Ankara (1999) and Adana (2000).

Scientific Societies[edit]

Haberal’s scientific society participation includes:

· Served as Turkish Representative to the International Society of Burn Injuries (ISBI) (since 1975), Eastern Mediterranean Representative (1982-1986)8 Associate Secretary General (1986-1990), President-Elect (2004-2006), and President (2006-2008), and subsequently Life Member9

· Member of the American Burn Association (1978-)10

· Established the Turkish Organ Transplantation and Burn Foundation (1980)11

· Founding Member of the Mediterranean Burns Club (1982)12

· Established the Middle East Dialysis and Organ Transplantation Foundation (MEDOTF) (1984)11

· Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) (1986), Honorary Fellow (2010), Governor and Turkey Representative (2014-).

· Founder and first President of the Middle East Society for Organ Transplantation (MESOT) (1987), MESOT Lifetime Achievement Award (2006), and President (2014–2016)

· Founder and President of the Turkish Transplantation Society (TOND) (1990-)

· Established the Turkish Burn and Fire Disaster Society (TYAD) (1995)13

· Established the Turkish Transplant Games Society (2000)

· Turkey Representative of the Academy of Surgical Research (2004)

· Councilor for the Middle East and Africa of The Transplantation Society (TTS) (2004-2008)

· Established the World Academy of Medical, Biomedical and Ethical Sciences (WAMBES) (2012)

· Established the International Haberal Transplantation and Education Foundation (IHTEF)14 (2013) to support the work of the 2008 Declaration of Istanbul (DoI) on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism, of which he is a member of the Steering Committee15.

· Established the Turkic World Transplantation Society (TDTD) (2014)

Memberships and Fellowships in Professional Organizations[edit]

· Member, American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS), 1987

· Fellow, American College of Surgeons (ACS), 1986; Honorary Fellow, 2010 (first Turkish Honorary Fellow)

· Member, New York Academy of Sciences, 1992

· Member, World Association of Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM), 1993

· Honorary Fellow, American Surgical Association (ASA), 2003

· Honorary Fellow, International College of Surgeons (ICS), 2005

· Honorary Membership, Brazilian Burn Society (SBQ), 2006

· Member, International Surgical Group (ISG), 2006

· Honorary Member, Czech Medical Association, 2008

· Honorary Member, Academy of Medical Sciences of Iran, 2008

· Foreign Corresponding Member, National Academy of Medicine of Buenos Aires, 2014

Other memberships include:

· European Society for Organ Transplantation (ESOT)

· European Burn Association (EBA)

· International Liver Transplantation Society (ILTS)

· International Pediatric Transplantation Society (IPTA)

· American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD)

Other Outstanding Accomplishments[edit]

Haberal played a prominent role in the enactment of Turkish Law 2238 (June 3, 1979), which established regulations for the harvesting, storage, grafting and transplantation of organs and tissues. Later, Law 2594 was also passed (January 21, 1982), which made the harvesting of organs from people who have died in traffic accidents or natural disasters possible, without consent in cases where the next-of-kin could not be contacted.


Mehmet Haberal has received more than 30 national and international awards. Among them:

· Sedat Simavi Foundation Award for outstanding medical contributions, 1983

· Everett Idris Evans Memorial Award from the American Burn Association, 198516

· Received the Millennium Medal for recognition of contributions to the development of organ transplantation in Turkey and throughout the world by The Transplantation Society, 2000

· Lifetime Achievement Award from Kuwaiti Ministry of Health, 2006

· Award for Medical Contribution to Organ Donation and Transplantation from Turkish Ministry of Health, 2007

· Awards for Medical Contribution from Jordan and Saudi Arabia, 2008

· Special Achievement Award from the American Burn Association, 2014


Haberal has authored 6 books in Turkish and 4 books in English. As of December 2015, he had also authored more than 1500 scientific publications in English and Turkish.

See also:

· Transplantation in Turkey (2001) (accessed April 1, 2016)

· My Life in Burns (2008) (accessed April 1, 2016)

· What is My Crime: Professor Mehmet Haberal’s Oral Silivri Deposition (2013) (accessed April 1, 2016)

· Akyol M, Oral MK, Keskin T, Güney F. Haberal: Prof. Dr. Mehmet Haberal’s Life 24/7. Istanbul: Aküm Yayınları, 2013.


· Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Experimental and Clinical Transplantation (Official Journal of MESOT), 2003–present

· Guest Editor of Transplantation Proceedings every two years from 1996–present

· Member of Editorial Board of 10 international journals

Arrest and Imprisonment18[edit]

On April 13, 2009, Haberal was detained by the police, along with others suspected of involvement in an anti-government group known as Ergenekon.19 Although the accusation against him and other prominent citizens was widely seen as a fabrication, Haberal was formally charged on April 17 and imprisoned.20 On August 15, 2013, he was sentenced to 12 years and 6 months in prison, but was released for time served.21 Subsequent appeals resulted in a historic decision by the Supreme Court on April 21, 2016, in which they overturned the convictions and ruled that the alleged Ergenekon did not in fact exist.22

Despite being cut off from his clinical and academic work during his arrest, in 2013 Elsevier Publishing House recognized Haberal as the second most published author in the field of transplantation, based on the total number of publications between 1932 and 2012.23

Member of Parliament[edit]

In 2011, Haberal was elected Member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, representing Zonguldak as a member of the Republican People’s Party (CHP). However, at the time of his election he was in prison awaiting trial (see preceding paragraph). Although the accusations against him and other prominent citizens were widely seen as fabrications, he was not released despite being elected to parliament and was thus prevented from taking his oath as an MP. After his release from prison in August 2013, he took the oath on October 2, 201324 and served in parliament until the following election in 2015, at which time he chose not to be a candidate.

Undertakings outside Medicine and Education[edit]

Haberal has established a number of businesses under the aegis of Başkent University. Besides a television channel, radio station and news agency, he has opened two luxury hotels, two holding companies with 20 related firms, a textile workshop, a dialysis solution factory, a gas station, and a woodworking shop and ironworks.

The Başkent University Transplantation and Gene Sciences Institute Integrated Facilities include a dairy farm and milk production factory in addition to an experimental animal breeding center with pigs, rats, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs.


1Haberal M. (2008) My Life in Burns, p. 5 (accessed April 1, 2016)

2Op.cit. p. 13

3Op.cit. p. 2

4Op.cit. p. 4

5Milestones of Organ Transplantation in Turkey by Prof. Mehmet Haberal (accessed April 1, 2016)

6Haberal M, et al. (1996) Ten-year survival after a cold-ischemia time of 111 hours in the transplanted kidney. Transplantation Proceedings. 28(4):2333.

7 (accessed April 1, 2016)

8 Haberal M. (2008) p. 26

9Op.cit. p. 51

10Op.cit. p. 28

11Op.cit. p. 23

12Op.cit. p. 26

13Op.cit. p. 38

14International Society of Nephrology. IHTEFto link the Haberal Legacy in Transplantation to the Declaration of Istanbul, (accessed April 1, 2016)

15Steering Committee of the Istanbul Summit (2008). Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism and Commercialism: the Declaration of Istanbul. Lancet 3372(9632):5-6[IS0140-6736(08)60967-8/fulltext (accessed April 1, 2016)

16 Haberal M. (1986) Electrical Burns: A Five-Year Experience-1985 Evans Lecture. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 26(2):103-105

17Haberal, M. (2008) pp. 58–64

18Mehmet Haberal'dan: Belgeler ve Gerçekler. Private publication, Istanbul, 2012. (in Turkish). A recounting of his arrest and imprisonment presented through official documents

19 Latest Ergenekon raid nets academics and NGO heads. Hürriyet 14 April 2009 (accessed, March 23, 2016)

20Academia staff charged by court. Hurriyet 18 April 2009. (accessed, March 23, 2016)

2119 sentenced to life in Turkey's Ergenekon coup plot trial, including ex-military chief. Hurriyet Daily News 5 August 2013. (accessed, March 23, 2016)

22 (accessed 10 May 2016)

23Türkiye için utanç haberi: Prof. Dr. Mehmet Haberal "Transplantasyon" alanında bilimsel yayında dünyada ikinci sırada. Sözcü 27 February 2013. (accessed, March 23, 2016)

24CHP'li Haberal yemin etti. Hürriyet 2 October 2013 (accessed, March 23, 2016)