Medical scientist and neurosurgeon. He was born on July 6th, 1925 in Lice, Diyarbakır. Prof. Dr. Gazi Yaşargil was originally from the Kayhans tribe, who were the first have settled in Beypazarı, Ankara and his ancestors moved to Istanbul upon the request of Fatih Sultan Mehmed Khan the Conqueror. Due to his father’s profession as the district governor, they moved to Lice, Diyarbakır, where he was born, in 1925.
After having attended Ankara Atatürk High School and Ankara University, Faculty of Medicine, he went to Germany to study medicine at the Friedrich Schiller University in 1944. Because of the effects of the World War II, he went to Switzerland, University of Basel in 1945. Yaşargil, who completed his doctorate there in 1950, did studies on neurosurgery after he had worked at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Bern for a while. He began to conduct researches on the anatomy of the brain and general surgery at the Neurosurgery Department of University of Basel in 1953 and resumed his studies at the hospital university in Zurich during the time between 1957 and 1965. In 1965, he was promoted as the assistant professor.
Between the years of 1965 and 1967, he did studies on micro-vascular surgery at the Department of Neurosurgery, Vermont University in Burlington, the USA, in collaboration with Prof. Peardon Donaghy. When he completed his studies there, he returned to Zurich again.
On October 30th, 1967, he did the first brain bypass surgery using surgical microscopes. With this success, he made himself a name in neurosurgery world and began to carry out studies on new surgical equipment for he thought the current ones were not sufficient. He made important discoveries for surgery such as the floating microscope and angiography. The microscope he used in brain surgery operations had played a very important role for the treatment of aneurysm and made a breakthrough in neurosurgery. In 1973, he was promoted as a professor and appointed as the chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery, University of Zurich.
Together with Harvey Cushing, Yaşargil is regarded as one of the greatest neurosurgeons of the twentieth century. He has helped three generations of neurosurgeons, conveying crucial data. At the universities he worked, he trained around 3000 colleagues from all continents, sharing his knowledge and experiences and demonstrated the applications. He continued his career at the College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the USA.
He was honored as "Neurosurgery’s Man of the Century” by American Association of Neurological Surgeons and he appeared on the cover of the official scientific journal of the association called “Neurosurgery” and in 2002, a science platform was named after him. It was the first time that a science platform of a prestigious university in the USA was named after a Turkish person. Harry Ward, the chairman of the Medicine School, said of Prof. Yaşargil:“Gazi Yaşargil is an abstract example of perfection. With his contributions to neurosurgery, he proved that he is far beyond anyone in the neurosurgery. He made a breakthrough in neurosurgery and micro-neurosurgery.”
He was regarded as a “pioneer” due to his contributions to neurosurgery. For him, the brain is composed of water-channels and a surgeon explores the brain just like you can explore a new continent through its channels. Gazi Yaşargil indicates that there isn’t any tumor or lesion he cannot get to with the microscopes.
Prof. Dr. Yaşargil holds many degrees such as neurosurgeon, professor doctor, neurosurgeon of the century. He was awarded as a Honorary Doctor in 1991 by Istanbul University, by the University of Lima in 1999, by Hacettepe University in 2000, by the University of Oxford in 2001 and by Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena in 2002 and he is the honorary fellowship of numerous associations around the world as well.
Yaşargil also received many national and international awards, such as the Vogt-Award of the Swiss Ophthalmological Society in 1957, Pioneer Micro-surgeon Award of the International Microsurgical Society (Sidney – Australia) in 1981, Turkish Republic, the Medal of Distinguished Service in 2000, Award of the Turkish Academy of Sciences in 2000, International Francesco Durante Award (Italy) in 2002, TBMM National Sovereignty Honorary Award in 2002 and in 2005. Besides, many educational institutions in Turkey are named after him.
REFERENCE: Milliyet (24 Kasım 1992), Eczacıbaşı Haberler (Sayı: 128- 132, Mayıs 1993, s, 8-9), Şevket Beysanoğlu / Diyarbakır’lı Fikir ve Sanat Adamları ( c. III, s. 183-187, 1997), M. Gazi Yaşargil / Bir Beyin Cerrahının Yaşamı Düşünceleri ve Anıları (2000), İhsan Işık / "Ünlü Bilim Adamları" (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, c.2, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013) - Diyarbakır Ansiklopedisi (2013) - Geçmişten Günümüze Diyarbakırlı İlim Adamları Yazarlar ve Sanatçılar (2014).