Personal experience inspires employee

Bond of brothers: Roche Turkey’s Sinan Ozkan lives today thanks to a vital donation made by his brother Serdar (in yellow shirt).

Thirteen years ago while still just 27 years old, Sinan Ozkan had to be rushed to hospital in Turkey. Hepatitis had led to his liver failing and he had slipped into a coma. An urgent liver donation was needed for him to survive the ordeal. That help came from his brother, Serdar, who donated the left lobe of his liver. Following the transplant, Sinan was put on an immunosuppressive protocol.

“My brother made an incredible sacrifice that helps me live today. Also, important was the role of the medicine that made sure that the transplant would work. The medicines that I was using were helping a piece of my brother to function well in my body. It was quite an experience. During my recovery period in the hospital, I had also witnessed many patients suffering from their illness and this led me to think about my life and what I could do when I got back to work,” Sinan said.

An important decision

In fact, it was during one of his follow-up visits to hospital that he heard about Roche looking for a sales representative in the field of transplantation. Right until then he had been working in the area of fast-moving consumer goods and was already a sales manager. But his personal experiences beckoned to him and he decided to make the switch. He had moved from being a patient to a person who would help make life-saving drugs available in the area of transplantation.

That was in 2007. Today, Sinan is South Turkey Regional Sales Manager for Transplantation and Cystic Fibrosis based in Antalya. In addition to being a sales rep, he also had stints as a Product Manager for Roche transplant drugs.

Touching lives

Today, after 13 years as a transplant patient and 8 as a Roche employee, he still feels the same motivation that drove him to join the company in the first place. “For me it is more than a job; it is an opportunity to directly touch the lives of patients just as mine was when I had to use such drugs several years ago,” states Sinan.

“My experiences both as a patient and a Roche employee make me understand the patients’ mindset in a meaningful way. Every single patient wants to be sure that she or he is getting the best therapy available. This increases my sense of responsibility toward my job. And it helps me put in that additional effort to make sure that our medicines are used in the right way,” he says.

As for his brother, Sinan tells us that he is perfectly healthy and lives in Antalya where he works as a dentist. “Fortunately, none of my family members ever had liver disease.”

A very personal image

Sinan Ozkan remembers a humorous, yet very personal event. A few years ago, as a Roche employee, he was attending a session at the National Gastroenterology Congress, seated next to the transplant coordinator from the hospital where he had been treated. “The session was about liver transplantation and the speaker was my transplant surgeon. During his presentation, he showed pictures taken during a successful surgery that he had performed. The transplant coordinator bent over and told me that those images were from my surgery. I was lucky not just to be alive, but also to see the insides of my body!” he says with a wry smile.

Tags: Infectious diseases, Hepatitis, People