Donald D. Trunkey, M.D. Lectureship

History of Donald D. Trunkey, M.D.

Dr. Donald Trunkey and Medical Staff in the ORDonald D. Trunkey was born in 1937 in the town of Oakesdale, Washington in the heart of the Palouse region. Early work included farming, mining, hod carrying and carpentry. He attended Washington State University for his undergraduate degree and then went on to medical school at the University of Washington, receiving his medical degree in 1963. Uncertain about medicine or surgery as a career, Dr. Trunkey chose to do a rotating internship at the University of Oregon School of Medicine. After one month on the surgical service, he had no question on what career to pursue.

Following his internship, Dr. Trunkey spent two years in the U.S. Army as a general medical officer in Germany. Upon completion of his military duties he finished his general surgical training at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Trunkey then spent an additional year at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, where he was involved in a NIH special fellowship in trauma.

Dr. Donald TrunkeyIn 1972, Dr. Trunkey returned to UCSF as a member of the faculty and became involved in the care of trauma patients. He was Chief of the Burn Center and had an extensive interest in elective vascular and non-cardiac thoracic surgery. He also established a laboratory to study mechanisms of shock at the cellular level.

After eight years as Chief of Surgery at San Francisco General Hospital, Dr. Trunkey assumed the position of Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the OHSU School of Medicine in 1986, a position he held until 2001.

Dr. Trunkey: An Advocate for Injured Patients, a Legend in Trauma Care

Published by the OHSU School of Medicine News on July 29, 2010

Trauma surgeons thrive on a certain level of chaos;part of the job is providing care for patients with complex, critical injuries. Add crashing scud missiles and young soldiers, often in their twenties, with double leg amputations, or both eyes removed from AK47s, or worse – injuries too severe to allow even the best surgeon to save their life – and the working conditions become extraordinary.

Yet these are part of the job description for the active combat military surgeon. And Donald Trunkey, M.D., Professor Emeritus and former Chair, Department of Surgery, has seen them all.

"Sometimes it's like putting humpty dumpty back together again," said Dr. Trunkey. "We don't always win, but when we do, it's a real upper. I wouldn't trade it for anything."

"Dr. Trunkey provided the impetus to change the role of the military in trauma and medicine," said Pat Southard, MN, JD, Associate Professor, Department of Surgery. "He's responsible for the last 15 years of improvements in how the military practices trauma care during combat."

During Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield, Dr. Trunkey was stationed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as chief of surgery and chief of professional medical staff of the U.S. Army's 50th General Hospital. He dealt with a number of operational and cultural obstacles that prompted him to publish a commentary in the March 1993 edition of Archives of Surgery called "Lessons Learned," a document that paved the way for how the U.S. Department of Defense trains its trauma personnel today.

Dr. Trunkey's influence on trauma care is not confined, however, to the military sphere, but is based on a persistent advocacy for optimal treatment of injured patients.

"The critical moment in Don Trunkey's career was when he published a paper in 1979 on death rates of trauma patients in Orange County (Calif.), compared to those in San Francisco County," said Richard Mullins, M.D., Professor, Department of Surgery. "That paper was a bombshell. It was one of the earliest, most persuasive pieces of evidence on the effectiveness of trauma centers.

"With this professional catalyst in place, Dr. Trunkey began appearing at conferences around the world to speak about trauma care. His message was unwavering: injured patients deserve the best trauma care available, and the best care includes an organized trauma system.

"To put it bluntly, Dr. Trunkey would show up at a major meeting and say, 'You're doing a terrible job, and you ought to be embarrassed,'" said Dr. Mullins. "I bet 50,000 people have met Don Trunkey, and they remember that experience. He's inspired people and really made a difference."

At 73, Dr. Trunkey is not slowing down. Since 2006, he's traveled six times to Landsthul, Germany, to provide relief to military surgeons working at the U.S. Army's hospital there. It's a place he's familiar with, in part because of a fateful week during Desert Storm. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf came to Dr. Trunkey with an ill general, who Dr. Trunkey diagnosed with acute cholesystitis – he needed his gall bladder out immediately. After hearing the diagnosis, Gen. Schwarzkopf dismissed the lower general and ordered him to Landsthul for the operation. Without hesitation, Dr. Trunkey told the renowned commander he was making a mistake, which landed him on Gen. Schwarzkopf's private Learjet to Germany to perform the procedure himself.

The recovered general reported back to duty five days later, and subsequently arranged for Dr. Trunkey to receive a bronze star. "Frankly, Dr. Trunkey is the only man I know who would be in that situation and say to Gen. Schwarzkopf, 'Sir, you're making a mistake,'" said Dr. Mullins. "And then he actually proved him wrong. That epitomizes Don Trunkey.

"Regardless of his international recognition, though, providing excellent care is what motivates Dr. Trunkey. He spoke recently with the father of an injured soldier whose life Dr. Trunkey helped save. "He's been accepted into Harvard law school, and he's got a special wheelchair fitted to the bottom of his torso. It makes me want to cry. His father is so grateful that his son is alive; it's amazing."

This year's Donald Trunkey Lecturer

John Fildes, M.D., Trunkey Lecturer 2018Monday, September 17, 2018 | 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. | OHSU Auditorium

"The One October Shootings in Las Vegas"

John Fildes, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.C.C.M., F.P.C.S. (Hon.)

Professor and Inaugural Chair
Chief, Division of Acute Care Surgery
Department of Surgery
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

John Fildes, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.C.C.M., F.P.C.S. (Hon.) is Professor and Inaugural Chair of the Department of Surgery at the new UNLV School of Medicine. He is also the Chief of the Division of Acute Care Surgery which includes trauma, surgical critical care, burns, and emergency and elective general surgery. Dr. Fildes established the nation’s first Acute Care Surgery fellowship approved by the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma and he continues to function as its Program Director.

Dr. Fildes is also the Medical Director of the Trauma Center and Chair of the Department of Trauma and Burns at the University Medical Center (UMC) in Las Vegas. He has held this position since 1996. UMC is Nevada’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, only Pediatric Trauma Center, and only Burn Center. Dr. Fildes coordinated the medical response to the 10/1 Shootings in Las Vegas and has been a spokesperson to the regional, national, and international news outlets.

Dr. Fildes has been practicing in Las Vegas since 1996 where he received the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce's Achievement Award (1998), was named as Nevada’s Distinguished Physician (2006), Healthcare Hero (2012), Best Doctors of Southern Nevada (2015, 2016, and 2017), and honored by the Mayor of Las Vegas who proclaimed May 12th as Dr. John Fildes Day in the City of Las Vegas (2017). He also received the Dean’s Distinguished Service Award (2007), Foundation Professor Award (2012), and was named the Outstanding Teacher and Full Time Professor on numerous occasions by the UNR School of Medicine. Dr. Fildes is the recipient of certificates of appreciation from the White House Medical Unit (1998, 2017), the Centers for Disease Control (2009 and 2012), and the US Air Force (2016).

Dr. Fildes was appointed the National Chair of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Committee on Trauma (2006-2010) and was later promoted to Medical Director of all Trauma Programs. He currently serves as ACS Governor of the state of Nevada.

Dr. Fildes has collaborated with the United States Air Force (USAF) for more than a decade. He was a Senior Visiting Surgeon and Consultant at Landsthul Regional Medical Center in Germany and at Bagram and Kandahar Air Bases in Afghanistan (2008). He embedded active duty residents into general surgery and emergency medicine residencies at the UNLVSOM. Dr. Fildes collaborated and led the efforts to establish the SMART program (Sustained Medical and Readiness Training) to sustain and improve the readiness of surgeons and their surgical teams for battle field medicine.

Previous Donald Trunkey Lecturers

2018 | John Fildes, M.D., University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Medicine | "The One October Shooting in Las Vegas"

2017 | Douglas Wood, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.R.C.S.Ed., University of Washington | "Lung cancer screening: guidelines, policy development and access"

2016 | Leigh Neumayer, M.D., M.S., The University of Arizona Cancer Center | "Regionalization, standardization and the next generation"

2015 | Gregory J. Jurkovich, M.D., University of Colorado School of Medicine | "2,500 trauma deaths: Lessons learned from Surgery M&M Conference"

2014 | David S. Mulder, M.D., M.Sc., F.R.S.C., F.A.C.S., McGill University | "Current management of airway trauma"

2013 | Anna Ledgerwood, M.D., Detroit Receiving Hospital | "Myths in surgical care - A personal perspective"

2012 | Wendy Moore, Freelance Journalist and Author, London, England | "John Hunter (1728-93): the Scottish surgeon who changed the face of American medicine"

2011 | William P. Schecter, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.C.C.M., University of California, San Francisco | "The surgery of poverty"

2010 | LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S., Howard University | "The President's cancer panel - role and impact"

2009 | C. William Schwab, M.D., University of Pennsylvania Medical Center | "Firearm injuries in America: Where are we?"

2008 | J. Wayne Meredith, M.D., Wake Forest University School of Medicine | "Chest trauma for the general surgeon"

2007 | Haile T. Debas, M.D., University of California, San Francisco | "The influence of surgery in the 21st century"

2006 | F. William Blaisdell, M.D., University of California, Davis | "The medical and surgical advances during the Civil War"

2005 | Frank R. Lewis, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., Executive Director, American Board of Surgery | "J. Engelbert Dunphy: An icon in surgical education"

2004 | George Sheldon, M.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | "John Hunter and the American School of Surgery"

2003 | Julie M. Fenster, Author | "Demonstration of surgical anesthetics"