Q & A with Abdalla Zarroug, M.D.

This is part of our ongoing series featuring physician-leaders to help the entire medical staff learn more about these colleagues.

• Chief of Pediatric Surgery, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center
• Professor and Division Chief of Pediatric Surgery, University of Nebraska Medical Center Department of Surgery

“That’s how I try to make the decisions: would I have the opportunity to make a real difference in the community?”

Dr. Abdalla Zarroug is settling into his role as Division Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, an impactful position he has held since February. He brings 20 years of experience providing high-quality, patient-focused pediatric surgical care, including his 14 years at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. More recently, Dr. Zarroug served as Division Chief of Pediatric and General Thoracic Surgery at Sidra Medicine, a hospital he helped to launch in Doha, Qatar.

What inspired you to pursue a career pediatric surgery?
“When I was in medical school, I thought being a surgeon was the most ‘complete’ physician. You can intervene with medicine or surgery. You can basically do it all. Then, after a rotation in pediatric surgery, I found it was even more gratifying to help children and babies. We have to be good pediatricians. We have to do neonatal care and ICU care. We do burn care. We do trauma care. We can even delve into fetal surgery.”

 Before coming to Omaha, you practiced 7,300 miles away in Doha, Qatar. What attracted you to Children’s?
“I was looking for an opportunity in the U.S. to make a difference. That’s how I try to make the decisions: would I have the opportunity to make a real difference in the community?”

What excites you most about your new division chief position at Children’s?
“All of the ingredients are there to make Children’s – along with the university – one of the best academic children’s surgical programs in the country. There is nothing missing. The goal is to make it even better.”

As a pediatric surgeon, how have you worked to improve the experience for children?
“My whole career, I’ve focused on minimally invasive surgery, reducing the surgical insult or trauma to a child. So, instead of making a big incision, you find ways – through research and through laparoscopy – to make a smaller incision or no incision at all while maintaining the same or better outcome.”

What do you want Omaha area parents – and the community in general — to know about you?
“I, unfortunately, know what it’s like to have children who have been quite ill. I really do get it. When parents have the fear that something is wrong with their child – and they’re hoping for the best – they should know that I will try my very best every single time, no matter what it takes, to do what that child needs, in the context of the family.” 

What do you enjoy doing in your off time?
“I spend time with our five kids (ages 10-17). I play soccer when I can. One of our hobbies is travelling. We love it – and we’ve been to a lot of places.”

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