Obituary

Hakan Ertin, 1962-2021

It is with deepest regret that I need to inform you of the sudden departure of a dearest friend and most esteemed colleague, Hakan Ertin, professor of history of medicine and ethics at Istanbul Medical Faculty (Çapa), a great supporter of the ideas of medical humanities in Turkey, where he helped establish the “Beşikçizade Centre for Humanities in Medicine” (BETİM) in 2012, which he managed as secretary general. Many of you may remember Hakan Hoca, as he would be addressed in Turkish, from his participation at the AHM meeting in Dartington in 2015, and some may have met him during his sabbatical visit to the Department for Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology of the University of Exeter between June 2019 and February 2020, hosted by Prof. Christine Hauskeller, with whom he established an ongoing working relationship on behalf of the University of Istanbul.

It is impossible to summarise the varied and numerous activities and achievements of our eminent colleague. Being a general physician by training, he started his career as a municipality doctor in Istanbul, but his academic vocation drew him back to his alma mater, where he pursued a career in history of medicine and ethics, rising through the academic degrees to the position of full professor. His passion for sharing his wide and profound knowledge and insight with students, not only of his own faculty, and the wider public made him a well-known figure beyond the medical community itself, while he always carefully nourished his roots in the clinical field; thus, he revived one of the oldest medical journals in Turkey, Anadolu Kliniği, alongside research and publications in medical humanities, history, and ethics, many of which were still in progress at the time of his departure. One of his many topics of interest was technological intervention in the human body, an issue he addressed in a number of papers. In the discipline of history, he was dedicated to the preservation of the historical heritage of modern medicine in Turkey since the foundation of the first medical faculty in 1827, precursor of today’s faculty in Çapa. A number of his graduate students have gone on to pursue their own academic careers at various universities in Turkey, and several of them had the great opportunity to publish their joint research.

Hakan was married to Deniz, with two sons who have by now grown into splendid young men. On the evening of 15 March 2021, when he suffered a massive heart attack, he left both his family and the wider academic and non-academic community orphaned. All of us who had the honour and pleasure of knowing Hakan Ertin and working with him have been so much used to being able to ask his advice and practical support with any questions and problems, be they academic, health-related, bureaucratic, or of entirely human nature. From the time I first arrived in Turkey in 2010 to the moment when I left in 2018, and to this day when bureaucratic leftovers from my time in Istanbul keep popping up, I have been so fortunate as to be allowed to count on his help. Hakan’s generosity towards anyone turning to him with any request was truly extraordinary, and the pain when learning of his passing was excruciating. Our friend and colleague was struck by a fatal ailment while in the full of his productivity, having given 24 talks in the last month of his life, being widely in demand especially at the time of the COVID19 pandemic. There was not one moment to prepare ourselves for his departure, no serious warning signs or premonitions.

Those who knew him remember Hakan Ertin with highest gratitude and admiration, a human being in the best sense of the term. Who if not he would put the “human” in medical humanities…

May he rest in peace, Nurlar içinde yatsın

Rainer Brömer, Göttingen, Germany

Leave a Reply