For this acclaimed vascular surgeon, a life of purpose reaches beyond the operating room and to the future of the medicine
Scholarships at UF
When 16-year-old Grant Virgin of Palm Desert, California, was hit by a car, he suffered brain damage, broken bones and a torn aorta. Doctors told his mother, author J.J. Virgin, to let her son go. Then Virgin learned about a surgeon two hours away at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center who could possibly save her son by repairing his aorta. Grant Virgin was airlifted and rushed into the operating room of Carlos Donayre, MD ’83.
J.J. Virgin said Donayre’s calm, confident demeanor gave her hope during the darkest time for her family.
“He told us, ‘You don’t have to worry. I’ve got this,’” she said. “I leaned into his strength and trusted that he would save my son.”
The trust the Virgin family placed in Donayre paid off, and this story is characteristic of the relationships he shares with his patients. The chief of vascular and endovascular surgery and a professor of surgery at the University of California, Irvine, Donayre inspires patients and colleagues alike with his conscientious bedside manner and innovative surgical techniques.
My parents lived out their dreams through their children by bringing us to the United States to be educated. My brother, sister and I fulfilled their dreams at the University of Florida.
— Dr. Carlos Donayre —
Donayre credits much of his success to the education he received at the UF College of Medicine, and that’s why he and his wife, Sandra, made the decision to donate $2 million to the college as part of their estate plans, establishing both the Enrique Donayre Scholarship and the Carlos E. Donayre, MD, Professorship in Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Surgery.
“I have much gratitude for the University of Florida,” he said. “I want to give back to UF for all the opportunities I was given, and I want to make an impact.”
The Donayres’ $1 million scholarship, named for Carlos Donayre’s father, will fund the education of UF College of Medicine students, with preference given to students who have graduated from a Peruvian high school or those with parents who have graduated from
a Peruvian high school. Donayre moved to Palm Bay, Florida, from Peru at age 12.
“My parents lived out their dreams through their children by bringing us to the United States
to be educated. My brother, sister and I fulfilled their dreams at the University of Florida,” he said. “I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for our parents’ mission.”
The Carlos E. Donayre, MD, Professorship in Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Surgery will advance the work and research of an esteemed professor in the UF College of Medicine division of vascular surgery and endovascular therapy. Donayre received acclaim in the 1990s for his work using endovascular bifurcated grafts to repair abdominal aortic aneurysms, which cause the walls of the main vessel delivering blood to the body to swell like balloons.
Sandra Donayre calls her husband a pioneer and a leader.
“He doesn’t do bread-and-butter vascular surgery. He was intimately involved with the development of the technique of putting an aortic graft in through the femoral artery,” she said.
Because of Donayre’s method, patients undergoing surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysms no longer have to have invasive surgery. The slim, bifurcated stent travels up the femoral artery of the leg to the abdominal aorta.
Donayre said what excites him most about his work is the opportunity to innovate. “I like to create and develop new techniques that help with what I do,” he said. “It’s a particularly exciting time.”
Sandra Donayre describes her husband as a committed, patient-focused physician. “He is warm and caring and has a gift for relating to his patients,” she said. “Patients tend to write him long thank-you notes. We probably have received 30 to 40 over the years.”
The Donayres live in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, in southwest Los Angeles County. The couple has four children, ages 10 to 27, whose endeavors range from finance to education to theater. Their youngest daughter aspires to study veterinary medicine at UF. As some of their children have left home to begin their adult lives, the Donayres felt it was the right time to provide support for future generations of physicians who are beginning their journeys at the UF College of Medicine.
“Both of us strive to live a purposeful life. Purpose to us means to think outside of ourselves,” Sandra Donayre said. “My husband’s legacy will be reflected in the many people he helps become physicians through his influence and his philanthropy.”
Story reprinted from Florida Physician magazine. To visit the new web site, go to https://floridaphysician.med.ufl.edu