Man behind the Mask: Journey of an Orthopaedic Surgeon

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  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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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Tedious memoir of a retired physician. Mallory's recollections plod along through adolescence in 1950s Ohio, medical residency at Ohio State, cutting-edge work in hip replacement and his deepening Christian faith. About the early days of his marriage, he has nothing more interesting to impart than the fact that they were poor: "My bride and I were wrapped in blankets because the 1946 Ford I drove had no heater." (Don't worry; they eventually bought a big house and fancy cars.) A few details do humanize Mallory. He is frank, for example, about his desire to make money, and he freely admits he often didn't spend enough time with his wife. But his workmanlike prose offers a textbook example for writing students of what not to do. Countless redundancies ("I was financially solvent") and overblown adjectives ("profound," "agonizing") weigh down the text. Mallory manages to transform potentially revelatory moments, such as his discovery that the kindly surgeon directing his residency had end-stage cancer, into trite musings about "life's uncertainties." Show-don't-tell may be overused advice, but it certainly applies here: Introducing a key story with a trite phrase like, "a tragic event occurred that affected me greatly," is guaranteed to suck the life out of even the most powerful vignette. Extraneous reflections on (for instance) the importance of having a yard for the kids don't serve the larger narrative-then again, it never really becomes clear what the larger narrative is. Most readers won't make it to what is presumably intended to be the book's emotional climax, when knee-replacement surgery and a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease show the great doctor what it's like to be a patient.Mallory may have been an important orthopedic surgeon, but he's no Jerome Groopman.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826217738
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 11/29/2007
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Thomas H. Mallory is Emeritus Chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at The Ohio State University Medical School. He lives in Naples, Florida.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2008

    Want to be a surgeon ? Read Tom's book!

    What a joy to have a book about Surgeons. the way they think and Act from a man of great faith who shares the good and the bad. I sent the book to my step daughter in third year Med School trying to decide what type of doctor she would like to be. After reading Tom's book she call to say she has decided on surgery. A must read for all Med students.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2008

    A reviewer

    I enjoyed Tom Mallory's book not so much for the technical innovations he brought to the world, but for the type of human being he is. The kind of doctor I want to go to is one who cares about the people he serves. I am also glad that he included pictures because that brings the story to life. Anyone who will take the time to think through his or her life and write it for the rest of us to learn from is a hero to me. We all need to share our stories! Congratulations Tom Mallory for a job well done.

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