Dilek Gürsoy is this year's recipient of the German Medical Award, a prestigious award for doctors. The Turkish-German heart surgeon, who became the first female surgeon in Europe in 2012 to implant an artificial heart, hails her mother for her path to success. The 43-year-old Gürsoy, who will receive her award in November, is the daughter of two Turkish "guest workers" who settled in Germany in 1969.
"My story started with the migration of two people with big hearts to Germany for jobs. Children of migrant families in Germany always aim to do better than others. It was my dream to become a doctor since I was a child," she said.
To achieve her dream, she had to take a medical exam, which has a particularly high admission fee.
"My mother did extra shifts in the factory, she worked for months just to be able to pay for the admission fee," she recalled. "She labored so much for me. I lost my father 32 years ago and she worked hard to take care of me and my brothers. She is the hero of my story. People ask me if being a surgeon is tough and I tell them it is not any more difficult than what my mother did for me for how many years."
Gürsoy said as children of migrant families, they never lacked in self-confidence. "We are not the migrant families mistreated in the past any more. We are scientists, doctors of Germany. I am a Turkish woman who proved herself. I am the daughter of an illiterate woman who did not speak German, yet managed to raise us with her resolve," she said.
She is proud of the award she won but said it was no coincidence. "I believe I worked hard and deserve it. I specialized in artificial heart surgery because heart failure is a global problem and there are little donations while the number of patients is high. Few doctors can perform such surgeries," she said. Gürsoy said her goal is to establish a center for artificial heart surgeries and save lives. "I think I can accomplish it because both Germans and Turks support me," she emphasized. Gürsoy also said that she wants to contribute to her homeland. "I am always ready to do something if needed in the heart surgery field for Turkey," she concluded.