Our third move in Turkey within two years! This one in April 2000 was by far the easiest and we even carried our clothes around the corner to our new home. Most of the older buildings in Turkey has a doorkeeper and his family living in the basement of the building. The doorkeeper usually take care of the common areas in the building and around the building. In the winter the doorkeeper operates the central heating system and in some buildings the doorkeeper will deliver milk and bread for a small fee.
Our new apartment in Ankara had a doorkeeper. His wife was doing housekeeping chores for some families and she took interest in Magda from the onset. She would often come and knock on our door. When you open she would step right in and before you know it she would be in front of the cupboard in the bedroom looking at Magda’s dresses and clothes. She would not hesitate to point to the ones she liked and we knew it was her way of “begging” for a gift!
We were still home schooling the children and through our American friends at church we got access to the US Army base in Ankara where the children could take part in soccer, baseball and basketball on Saturdays. This was a great blessing and did a lot for their desire to socialize with their peers.
Soon after we moved into our new home we were contacted by the European leaders of a mission organization in Ankara. The husband of our first Turkish language helper was seriously ill. He drove the vehicle that transported the search and rescue team Magda was part of in 1999. He was very active in the relief work since then, but he was now suffering from a serious heart condition. It seemed that he needed a heart transplant. American and European inquiries did not deliver any viable solution and they were now turning to South Africa to see if Necmi can be helped in South Africa. We were after all the “home of heart transplants!”
Necmi and Sakine had a new born baby daughter and he was scared of bonding with the baby for the real threat that he may die soon. We immediately made some inquiries and after a short search we got hold of the surgeon in charge of the heart transplant team in Cape Town. After explaining the situation she agreed that we should make arrangements to send Necmi to Cape Town. She made it clear that they would admit him for observation and will then access the situation. At the time, no foreigner was eligible for a South African heart. She did however gave us the assurance that if a heart becomes available for transplant, and if there is no suitable candidate in South Africa, Necmi will be considered.
At the same time an anonymous donor in America heard about Necmi and his condition. He inherited a large sum and when he learned about the possibility of Necmi receiving a heart transplant he donated his full inheritance to cover the cost.
Necmi was seriously ill and in no condition to undergo such a long flight. The airline demanded that a doctor must travel with Necmi. With all arrangements in place a small group of friends bid Necmi farewell. We had a post card of Cape Town and Table Mountain and we gave it to Necmi with the encouragement that we are waiting to hear the news that he summoned the mountain.
Necmi arrived safely with his wife and daughter in South Africa in March 2000 and was admitted to hospital. He was kept under observation and he was treated for some of the symptoms of his condition. Our South African friends in Ankara had just returned to South Africa. They were mutual friends of Necmi and Sakine and they were able to take care of Sakine and the baby. The church leaders in Ankara asked them to help steward the funds and support needs of Necmi and his family in South Africa, which they accepted.
Two months later, on the 7th of May 2000 Necmi was still waiting for a miracle. His symptoms were under control but he still needed a heart transplant. Magda learnt that their was more than 1000 people on the waiting list for transplants. Everyone was praying for a miracle but it looked very unlikely.
The next morning we had a call from the hospital. They found a heart for Necmi! Out of all the people on the waiting list, his profile was the best fit for the donor heart and the transplant will be done!
The operation was done and Necmi recovered well. The hospital room Necmi had, had a view on Table Mountain reminding him of the challenge Magda gave him before he left Turkey. Before they returned to Turkey Necmi shared a picture of him and his family on top of Table Mountain.
Through all of this our mutual friends took care of all their needs in an exemplary manner. The funds donated by the anonymous donor were sufficient to cover all the costs. After their return to Turkey Necmi lived a full life for six more years, before some of his organs failed and he passed away.
We would never have thought that a South African heart would find a Turkish match!