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.
Children’s Medical Care Foundation
Professor Michael P. Sherman
Doctor Honoris Causa
On November 18th, 2015, at the University of Medical Sciences in Poznan, world-renowned neonatologist and 29-year Children’s Medical Care Foundation (CMCF) Board Member, Professor Michael P. Sherman, was awarded the distinction of Doctor Honoris Causa by University Rector Hyacinth Wysocki. More than 170 distinguished guests attended the ceremony, including the heads of most major Polish medical universities, colleagues and former fellows, many of whom now head Polish medical societies, and major medical departments.
Professor Sherman received the Doctor Honoris Causa award for his nearly three decades of dedication to the cause of improving infant and child care in Poland. He first joined CMCF’s Board of Directors in 1986 at a time when the infant mortality rate in Poland stood at a staggering 26 deaths per 1,000 live births, and neonatology was not yet a recognized medical specialty.
Later that year, Professor Sherman began the task of changing that when, in partnership with two Polish physicians, Professors Irena Twarowska and Janusz Gadzinowski, he organized the first ever Polish-American Neonatology Symposium at the Poznan University of Medical Sciences.
It’s easy to forget, but a big part of why Poland’s health care lagged so far behind United States was that it was just beginning to emerge from decades behind the Iron Curtain, where international information sharing, such an essential part of modern medicine, was virtually non-existent.
Professor Sherman was the first to open his medical department to CMCF-sponsored Polish Neonatology Fellows that same year, as an attending physician at UCLA’s world-leading Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, paving the way for many to follow.
With well over 100 published research studies to his credit, Professor Sherman is also one of the world’s foremost neonatology researchers, and an in-demand speaker at medical conferences and symposia worldwide.
Professor Sherman has shared his passion for research generously with an entire generation of Polish physicians, mentoring them through every step of the process, helping them not only to design their studies, but to write up the research results in a way that would pass muster with review boards-several of which he has served on over the years. Today, it is not uncommon to find pioneering research conducted by his former fellows in the most prestigious international medical journals.
CMCF’s long term objective has been to build international medical bridges, and one could hardly ask for a better ambassador than Professor Sherman. The partnerships he has made over the decades with Polish physicians have turned into lifelong friendships.
As recently as his acceptance speech, in which he described the honorary doctorate as “the distinction of a lifetime”, and which he accepted on all of our behalf, he rededicated himself to our CMCF shared mission.
Thanks to Professor Sherman’s many collaborators including doctors, researchers, donors and families a low birth weight child in Poland has just as good of a chance of living a normal life as an American one does.
The photographs below represent the formal ceremony and the published book detailing all of Professor Sherman’s publications and accomplishments.
The Board of Directors with gratitude thanks Dr. Michael P. Sherman for all he has done and congratulates him for receiving the Doctor Honoris Causa.
Click here for larger text and images.
Bjoern Martinoff, President of Children’s Medical Care Foundation, Receives Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland
Bjoern Martinoff, long-time president of the Children’s Medical Care Foundation, (CMCF) a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that works to improve neonatal health care around the world, was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in a ceremony held at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on October 23th, 2014.
Bestowed by the President of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski, and presented by the Ambassador of Poland to France, Tomasz Orlowski, the the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland is the highest of all civilian honors, and recognizes contribution to international cooperation or cooperation between Poland and other countries. The honor recognized Mr. Martinoff’s three decades of dedication to the cause of improving Polish pediatric care-nearly two decades of which at the helm of the organization.
CMCF Partners to Help Take Lviv City Children’s Clinical Hospital to the Next Level
Children’s Medical Care Foundation has partnered with the California Association to Aid Ukraine to raise funds to support the realization of the first “Pediatric Emergency and Trauma Center in all of Ukraine, located at the Lviv City Children’s Clinical Hospital.
Lviv City Children’s Clinical Hospital has steadily distinguished itself as a regional leader in pediatric care, and this Capital Campaign, with its preliminary budget estimate of $1.5 million, will fund renovation of four floors including associated furnishing and medical accessories. Donated medical equipment has been secured. The first joint fundraising event is in the planning stages for early spring.
Donations are being accepted.