Tony Macklin (68) and his wife Ruby (67) are enjoying a new lease of life thanks to the care of local Turkish people and the expertise of the Doctors and staff at the Antalya Medical Park Hospital earlier this year. Here is their incredible story.
Tony’s health began to deteriorate in the seventies when he was in his late thirties. In 1980 Tony underwent what was to be the first of four heart bypass operations over the next 12 years. In 1992, following the fourth and final bypass, his UK doctors performed a number of tests and then suggested that, as all his other internal organs were in good working order, he should now consider a full heart transplant.
Tony and Ruby, who lived in Ventnor on the Isle of White, agreed. Tony had recently retired and as they both realised his health was probably only going to get worse, they’d booked a Nile cruise holiday that they had been looking forward to for many years. The doctors agreed that Tony was fit enough for travel and that he’d be able to go on the transplant waiting list on his return.
They had a great time in Egypt, but were unlucky enough to both go down with a gastric bug, along with the rest of the passengers. Returning to England, Tony was not able to get onto the waiting list until the infection was cleared up.
Finally in October 1992, his GP gave him the all-clear and he was placed on the list. A donor heart was found on December 21 and the full transplant operation took place the next day.
A heart transplant is a major operation, and Tony had to take anti-rejection drugs which had the side effect of causing chronic kidney failure. His UK doctors suggested that he should begin kidney dialysis.
[inset side=right]”We’d received excellent care and attention from the NHS in the UK, but we understood that by spending most of our time abroad we’d no longer be eligible for treatment with them”[/inset]
“I wasn’t keen on facing a future where I’d be constantly having to hook up to a machine to keep me alive” said Tony, “so I asked if having a kidney transplant would be an option. The NHS doctors and nursing staff have been superb all through my previous operations, and they agreed to do some tests to see if it would be possible.”
Tony’s wife, Ruby, offered to donate one of her kidneys and so the medical staff set about checking compatibility. After everything they still thought though that kidney dialysis was the best way forward.
In April 2007, although Tony was by now not well, the couple took a three week holiday in Turkey to lift their spirits. It did the trick. The climate and innumerable charms of Turkey and the Turkish people worked wonders on both his health and their emotional morale.
Within four months they had sold their property in the UK and came to Turkey to begin a new life in Calis.
Health care options in Turkey
“We’d received excellent care and attention from the NHS in the UK, but we understood that by spending most of our time abroad we’d no longer be eligible for treatment with them, so we set about considering what our options were now” said Ruby.
“We bought our house through a local estate agent, Vartur, in Fethiye” they told us. “We owe them so much – not only did they find us our dream home and help us furnish it, but it was Ramazan and Seref who suggested we look at the Antalya Medical Park Hospital for treatment. They’ve all been brilliant.”
Ramazan and Seref took the couple to Antalya to see the hospital and discuss their case with the doctors. Professor Doctor Alper Demirtas is an internationally renowned specialist in kidney and liver transplants.
The couple underwent an intensive week of tests and had the procedures and risks fully explained to them by the doctors and where necessary superb internal translators.
“We can’t praise the doctors and staff highly enough,” said the couple. “Everything was done quickly and efficiently. We were even asked to choose when we’d like to schedule the operation!”
Wife donates kidney
Ruby donated her left kidney and the three hour operation was pronounced a success. Within six days Ruby was discharged and two days later Tony joined her. Their daughter came over from England to be with them and to help with their care while recovering.
Dr. Demirtas believes that this operation has been ground breaking and that Mr Macklin is the first person in the world to have had four successful bypasses, followed by a heart transplant and then a kidney transplant.
“I can’t believe how lucky I am,” said Tony. “I must be the luckiest man alive – I have a beautiful and loving wife who donated her kidney to me without a seconds thought. I’m immeasurably indebted to the poor young man who tragically lost his life in a car accident in 1992 but by doing so was able to save mine. And without which I’d never have seen six of my seven grandchildren be born and then watch them grow all up.
“I firmly believe coming to Turkey has saved by life, the care and friendship shown to me, by people who were effectively my estate agents!, is humbling and of course the skill and professionalism of the Turkish medical staff is, in my view, second to none.”
Tony began his working life with the Fleet Air Arm working on aircraft carriers, before leaving the forces to work for Ford in Southampton. Tony and Ruby have been married for 46 years and have 2 children and 7 grandchildren. They are now enjoying a full and happy retirement in Calis, Fethiye, Turkey.