Dr. Marian Zakharus
On March 9th, 2020, the Children’s Medical Care Foundation family lost a talented, ambitious exemplar of what it means to selflessly devote oneself to the care of children. Dr. Marian Zakharus, a pediatric surgeon at Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University, a rising star in the field of pediatric surgery in Ukraine and an even more extraordinary humanitarian, passed away suddenly at the age of 40.
The enormity of the loss of Dr. Zakharus’ passing, both to the immediate care of children in the Lviv region of Ukraine, as well as to the broader effort to elevate standards of pediatric care throughout the country, is difficult to overstate. Though barely into his fortieth year at the time of his death, he was already a highly respected surgeon, known for his thoroughness, stamina, discipline, work ethic and extraordinary capacity for gentleness and compassion with patients and emotional supportiveness of colleagues.
Dr. Zakharus first became affiliated with the Children’s Medical Care Foundation when he applied for and was granted an observership at the Department of Pediatric Surgery at the Upper Silesian Child Health Center, Katowice, Poland, under the guidance of Prof. Janusz Bohosiewicz. He would later acquire further CMCF-sponsored training at the Department of Pediatric Surgery and Urology at the University of Medicine, Wroclaw, Poland, under the guidance of Prof. Dariusz Patkowski.
Dr. Zakharus was also selected to participate in a two-day training at the Aesculap Academy in Nowy Tomysl, Poland, on minimally invasive surgical techniques with two of Europe’s leading practitioners and former CMCF Fellows, Professors Piotr Czauderna and Dariusz Patkowski, head of Pediatric Surgery and Urology Department Wroclaw University of Medicine and head of the Department of Surgery and Urology for Children and Adolescents of the Medical University of Gdańsk, respectively.
Dr. Zakharus was beginning to distinguish himself as one of the leading practitioners in Ukraine of minimally invasive surgical techniques such as laparoscopy for the treatment of oncological diseases, and for the application of those techniques for the treatment of patients with congenital and acute abdominal pathologies.
Marian took great pride in his affiliation with CMCF, and it is difficult to imagine a better ambassador for the foundation’s mission of generously sharing the latest of what is known in pursuit of ever better pediatric care standards. When members of CMCF’s US-based Board of Directors came to Ukraine, it was Dr. Zakharus who would greet them at the airport and assist them during their stays by personally driving them to important meetings. Stories abound of this kind of selfless volunteerism.
As impressive as his technical mastery in the operating theater was the personal effect he had on his patients. One colleague recalled how he would often have gifts or a joke for his young patients and that upon the recovery of one child from a particularly dire medical condition that Dr. Zakharus had treated him for, the parents asked Dr. Zakharus if he would be the child’s Godfather. Dr. Zakharus made it a tradition to visit the family in their distant village on the child’s birthday every year since. Another colleague, a neonatologist who had known and worked with him since medical school, said that he was adored by staff and patients alike and described him as “a great friend, the perfect surgeon, an amazing man, a loving son, just an awesome person”.
Though he was tragically taken too early, his legacy will live on and the standards he helped set will hopefully inspire those who come after. May he rest in peace.