When I read the shocking news of this horrific senseless attack on American surgeon Dr Edmund Pribitkin and his teenage son Edik in Melbourne, I felt sad, angry, baffled and ashamed; but most significantly I felt touched by the victim’s heart of gold and his capacity to forgive.

Firstly on behalf of all Melbournians, my sincere apologies to Edmund, his son Edik, and their family. Our prayers are with you for a speedy and full recovery.

Common Melbourne, we are better than that!

[Photos: Copyright Channel Nine]

Dr Pribitkin and son

Dr Edmund Pribitkin, chief medical officer of Thomas Jefferson University, and his 17-year-old son Edik were senselessly and ruthlessly attacked near the Queen Victoria Gardens after attending the Australian Open last Wednesday night.

Dr Pribitkin, who is a reconstructive surgeon himself, spent four days recovering in The Alfred Hospital. Having sustained horrific facial injuries, he thanked police and first responders: “My thanks and heart goes out to them, they put their lives on the line literally every day for us.”

He found it in his heart not only to forgive but also to say this about the attack and Melbourne:

This is a random act, it can happen anywhere in the world. It is a magical city you have some of the friendliest folks on earth here. We’ll be back, we’ll certainly be back, it’s thumbs up to that.  ~Edmund Pribitkin

You can read more on the details of the incident here.

The depth of his soul

Wanting to know more about this wonderful soul, I did a quick search and found this fascinating story about him in The (Philadelphia) Inquirer.

Bill McDermott, the CEO of software giant SAP, who has been a patient of Edmund calls him “a very special human being”, and has been quick to support Edmund and his family through this horrific incident. The Inquirer writes:

‘Early Friday, Pribitkin’s medical partner, Howard Krein, called Bill McDermott, the CEO of SAP and a patient of Pribitkin’s. McDermott contacted SAP’s Australian office and told it to be “on standby” should the family need anything.

In 2015, McDermott was seriously injured in Myrtle Beach, S.C., when he fell down stairs while holding a water glass that shattered. The shards pierced his left eye, his eye socket was broken, and he sustained severe cuts including to the nerves and blood vessels in his face. Though the eye could not be saved, Pribitkin performed a dozen surgeries to mend McDermott’s face. The two have been friends since.

“This is a man who is a very special human being,” said McDermott, adding the surgeon never left his side as he was prepared for the surgeries.

“I had such confidence in him,” McDermott said. “He always knew what to say and what to do.”

When he next sees Pribitkin, McDermott said, he will tell his friend: “I love you.”’

Stephen Klasko, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health said this about Edmund:

“I can’t think of anybody who is a better person and anybody that is more valuable to Jefferson,” said Klasko, who also offered any help Jefferson could give the family. “He is a real hero.”

May we all be inspired by Edmund and hope to find the capacity in our hearts to forgive and to love in our darkest hours.