Jefferson doctor and teen son attacked while at Australian Open

Two major area institutions – Thomas Jefferson University and software giant SAP – have reached out to help a Philadelphia surgeon who was seriously injured along with his son when they were attacked while attending the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Edmund Pribitkin, Jefferson’s chief medical officer, and 17-year-old Edik, a senior at Germantown Academy, had dreamed of attending the prestigious tennis tournament together, friends said.

The two were leaving the stadium area Wednesday when a gang of teens confronted them, asked for cigarettes, then punched and kicked Pribitkin, 52, of Blue Bell, who was “incapacitated” after the attack, News.Com.Au reported. The two were taken to Alfred Hospital, the site reported.

“They didn’t seem to want their possessions or anything like that, because my brother and dad offered them,” the doctor’s daughter. Tesa, told Nine News. Edik suffered a broken nose and concussion, the Melbourne Herald Sun reported.

Edmund Pribitkin, an otolaryngologist and reconstructive surgeon, suffered severe facial fractures and underwent surgery, said William Keane, chairman of Jefferson’s department of otolaryngology and a friend for 30 years.

“It is ironic he would sustain the injury he is an expert in repairing,” said Keane. “He taught hundreds of physicians how to do it.”

As soon as he heard the news, Keane reached out to Pribitkin’s wife, Yvette, and the medical team in Melbourne that is caring for Pribitkin. The doctor is expected to make a full recovery, while Edik is expected to be discharged from the hospital shortly, Keane said.

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.”

In 2016, Pribitkin and McDermott were honored at the hospital’s annual gala, said Stephen Klasko, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health.

“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.”