The patients who seek out Diab have experienced more pain in their young lives than most adults will ever know. Kids and teens with spinal deformities, hip dysplasia, and other orthopedic ailments, they undergo complex, multiple surgeries that often involve carving bones and rotating joints—techniques few surgeons are qualified to employ. They endure x-rays and braces and casts and crutches and weeks of rehabilitation, relearning to sit, stand, walk—run. It’s no wonder Diab calls them his greatest inspiration.
“Children facing complicated surgery often show greater emotional strength and clarity of thought than adults,” Diab says. “While their parents are tied in knots, the kids get it, and get on with it.”
Many of my patients were rejected by other institutions because their cases are too complex. With a mission to serve and outstanding physicians in every field, UCSF takes them all.
Although patients and parents recognize Diab’s unique talent for restoring mobility to his young charges, chances are they don’t know their doctor also has a degree in ancient Greek and Latin. In fact, lessons from the classics inform Diab’s work with patients and among the aspiring physicians who will advance medicine in the century ahead. “The single most important text for a medical student is Plato’s Republic,” Diab says. “Teaching students to love the humanity of medicine—the art as well as the science— means more than any knowledge I could impart or procedural skills I could teach.”
At UCSF—with its track record for discovery, its commitment to exceptional public education, and its dedication to community—Diab has found a place with a mission that matches his passion for medicine in the service of humanity. “That mission transcends me. It transcends UCSF. And it transcends time,” he says. The science of medicine, Diab believes, is ephemeral—“in 50 years, what’s cutting-edge today will be replaced with something new”—but the art, the human aspect, is eternal.
It is the generosity of medicine—the giving to others—that attracts Diab to his profession. “A big part of my philosophy is that we are here on earth for a short time, so we’d better be doing something worthwhile,” he says. At the end of the day, when Diab goes home, he has earned the satisfaction of making a difference. And through The Campaign for UCSF Medical Center—transforming the future of medicine through generosity—others can share in that reward.