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An alumnus demonstrates grace under fire (and ice) The unflappable Dr. Hrynkiw By ANASTASIA BUSIEK T

“It was noth- ing special. You do what


here’s that saying, “It’s not brain surgery.” Well, in this case, it is. One day in January, while neurosur-

geon Zenko Hrynkiw (BS ’74, MD ’77) was assisting with a surgery at Brook-

wood Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama, he got a call from the emergency room at a different hospital. A patient there had massive bleeding in the brain and required emergency surgery, and there was no one at that location—Trinity Medical Center—who could perform it. A nurse at Trinity texted the CT scans to Hrynkiw, who recognized the urgency of the situation. Unfortunately, one of the snowstorms that blanketed the South last win- ter was swirling overhead. Roads were impassable. So Hrynkiw started walking—still in his slip-on

shoes from the operating room. He walked six miles in the snow to reach his patient, managing to catch a ride for the final mile. Once there, he performed the life-saving surgery. When news outlets got wind of the story, they

wanted to know more, and Hrynkiw gave a short interview to reporters that made a bit of a splash in

the media. But Hrynkiw was surprised by the atten- tion, believing it was much ado about nothing. His take on that day’s events? “It was nothing special. You do what you do.” You may be wondering: Is it difficult to concen-

trate on brain surgery just after walking through a snowstorm? “No; it’s two different kinds of energies,” says

Hrynkiw. “Neurosurgery is more mental. Hiking through snow is physical. It was actually rather beautiful.” While studying at Loyola, Hrynkiw originally

wanted to go into psychiatry, but he found the field trying. “The next rotation was surgery, and it was so

simple,” he says. “No mind games.” And that was that. Hrynkiw has fond memories of his time at

Loyola. Despite geographical distance, he and a group of college friends have reunions three times a year. And although Hrynkiw, a born and raised Chicagoan, still loves the city and its sports teams, he moved to Birmingham in 1983—in part because of the weather.



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