Drs. Donald Jenkins '84 and Daniel Grabo '98: A Closer Look
Drs. Jenkins and Grabo, alumni trauma surgeons profiled here, each have key educational and career accomplishments, which neither will boast about. Humility is a trait that characterizes both and is illustrated, in just one example, through Grabo’s recollection of how and why he became one of six people to receive a Romanian Medal of Honor.
As chief of trauma at a hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2014, Grabo was charged with triaging the care for the wounded. One of the most significant tasks the team had to perform was an aggressive, invasive procedure known as a resuscitative thoracotomy, which involves cracking the chest and cross-clamping the aorta. Amid a chaotic scene with several others severely injured, Grabo’s team succeeded in getting this most critically wounded patient to recovery and on to intensive care in a successful and timely manner. Before the medals were awarded, Grabo said, he was given no choice but to accept his, as the unit leader. He also was charged with selecting the five other medal recipients, something he called an impossible task.
Therefore, it’s “an award I have proudly displayed in my home, but I don’t want it,” he said, explaining that every member of his team truly deserved the same honor. “As a commander, you want to make sure the people you bring to the fight are honored,” he said.
On that chaotic day, Grabo said, those people implemented every one of the treatments Dr. Jenkins worked so hard to bring to the medical forefront once again.
“How I take care of trauma patients is largely based on what Dr. Jenkins did over there," said Grabo.
Dr. Jenkins’ impressive curriculum vitae includes a bachelor of science in biochemistry from The University of Scranton, a medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, internships and a chief residency in the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center of the United States Air Force, and a fellowship in trauma and surgical critical care and focused abdominal sonography in trauma at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Grabo also did trauma training at the University of Pennsylvania and noted that he crossed paths with his former Northeastern Pennsylvania neighbor again a few years ago at EAST, or the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma, for which Grabo is now chair of the military section.
Grabo graduated from Georgetown Medical School in 2003, after spending a year in the civilian world working with his accountant father. He completed a residency in general surgery at Thomas Jefferson University before moving to Norfolk, Virginia, where he was a naval surgeon.
In 2010, he returned to Philadelphia for a fellowship before moving to Los Angeles in 2012 to join the Navy Trauma Training Center, where, he explained, those going overseas to treat the combat-wounded are trained. In 2014, he deployed to Afghanistan and spent 10 months as chief of trauma at NATO Role 3 Hospital in Kandahar. He then returned to Los Angeles, where, he said, “How I take care of trauma patients is largely based on what Dr. Jenkins did over there.”
Disclosure from the Department of the Navy/the Department of Defense (D.O.D.): The views presented here are those of the author and not necessarily the Navy or D.O.D.