Turkey’s Christian 'doctor of the poor' dies due to coronavirus

FreeImages.com/Murat Cokal

A Christian doctor who was hailed as "the doctor of the poor" after being cleared by Turkish authorities of wrongdoing has died of COVID-19 in Istanbul.

A report from Aleteia said Murat Dilmener died on Sunday at 78.

He was the first Syriac Christian employed as a professor in a medical school in Turkey.

The Turkish daily Hürriyet, said Dilmener, a specialist in internal medicine, "contributed greatly to the training of many students at the Istanbul Medical Faculty."

Dilmener was born in 1942, in Mardin, Turkey, a center for the Syriac Orthodox Church. He volunteered for initiatives in the churches of his community in both Mardin and Istanbul.

In 2004, Turkish authorities opened an investigation about Dilmener and 135 other doctors who had treated poor patients without permission and free of charge at a public hospital in Istanbul, according to Fides, the news service of the Vatican’s Pontifical Mission Societies. 

The accusations made against the professor of having stolen public funds to support that initiative were later disproved.

After that incident, Turkish media began calling Dilmener "the doctor of the poor."