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

Douglas Wood, M.D., F.A.C.S., 2017 Trunkey LecturerMonday, September 25, 2017 | 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. | OHSU Auditorium

"Lung Cancer Screening: Guidelines, Policy Development and Access"

Douglas Wood, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.R.C.S.Ed.

The Henry N. Harkins Professor and Chair
Department of Surgery
University of Washington
Seattle, Wash.

Dr. Douglas Wood is The Henry N. Harkins Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery for the University of Washington. He is a world-renowned surgeon in thoracic oncology, specializing in the areas of lung and esophageal cancer. He is also a national and international leader in the management of complex airway disease and in the surgical management of end-stage lung disease. He focuses his practice in these areas where he has led the UW thoracic group to be the leading referral center for patients from all over the Pacific Northwest.

Dr. Wood received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University and trained in general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He then was recruited to Seattle to lead a new section of general thoracic surgery at the UW.

The thoracic surgery group at UW has grown to be the largest and most comprehensive practice in the Western United States, with patients traveling from all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond for the expertise in cancer surgery and end-stage lung disease offered by Dr. Wood and his team. Dr. Wood leads the multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program where patients can get comprehensive evaluation and care from a dedicated team of pulmonary physicians, thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists. Patients with end-stage lung disease have options of lung volume reduction surgery, clinical trials of endobronchial valve therapy, pulmonary thromboendarterectomy or lung transplantation - the only lung transplant program in the Pacific Northwest, led by world expert, Dr. Michael Mulligan.

Dr. Wood has had a major role in guidelines development, leadership, and policy development in surgery and thoracic oncology. He is the chair of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Lung Cancer Screening Panel, the vice-chair of the NCCN Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Panel, past director of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, and past chair of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Thoracic Surgery Residency Review Committee. Dr. Wood has served as president of multiple surgical organizations, including the Seattle Surgical Society, the Western Thoracic Surgical Association, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Thoracic Surgery Foundation, and the Cardiothoracic Surgery Network (CTSNet). He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, holds an honorary Fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, honorary memberships in the Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland and La Sociedad Mexicana de Cirujanos Torácicos Generales. Dr. Wood has served as the International Councilor for both the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery and the European Society of Thoracic Surgeons and has been a visiting professor at over 50 institutions worldwide.

Previous Donald Trunkey Lecturers

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"