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The Man Behind the Mask: Journey of an Orthopaedic Surgeon
by Thomas Mallory
University of Missouri Press, 2007
eISBN: 978-0-8262-6617-0 | Cloth: 978-0-8262-1773-8
Library of Congress Classification RD728.M35A3 2007
Dewey Decimal Classification 617.47092


  The perils of aging are many, but the debilitating effects of serious illness loom large. In this stirring memoir, readers will discover a man who improved the lives of many arthritis sufferers before himself succumbing to a cruel debilitating disease. The Man behind the Mask tells the story of Thomas Mallory, who was inspired to become a doctor after undergoing surgery for a high school football injury. He went on to become a renowned surgeon and a pioneer in joint replacement. In 2002, his successful career came to an abrupt halt when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

            Mallory was one of the first surgeons in the United States to see the potential for joint replacement technology, and in this memoir he describes not only the nuances of introducing hip replacement surgery but also the systems that he established to make it a highly successful operation. He tells how he overcame initial resistance to the procedure and became a respected teacher of the technology, training many surgeons who went on to successful careers, lecturing about his procedure around the world, and also seeing VIP patients who journeyed to Ohio just to be operated on by him.

            As a pioneer in this type of operation, Mallory first recognized the value of using prosthetic innovation and development. He became a proponent of modularity in joint replacement surgery, which allowed a surgeon to customize a prosthesis to a patient’s joint in the operating room. His innovations, along with those of Dr. William Head, resulted in the introduction in 1983 of the Mallory-Head Hip System—a technology still in use today and one that has offered relief to thousands of patients.

            Tracing the joys and sorrows of his own career, Mallory dispels the myth that surgeons are emotionally invulnerable and cold. He offers his perspective on the pursuit of medicine as a profession, on the doctor-patient relationship, and on litigious challenges to physicians. He also commends the benefits of family and leisure and the blessing of life in general while offering insight into the management of an incurable disease.

            In our skeptical era, Thomas Mallory is a shining example of a prominent scientist who has maintained his faith in God throughout the highs and lows of life. The Man behind the Mask is an inspiring account for fellow professionals and general readers, as well as for those who have benefited from the procedures he introduced.

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