Professor Edward (Ted) Mah

Professor Edward (Ted) Mah

Specialised Orthopaedic Hand & Microsurgery Elbow And Shoulder
Hand, Microsurgery, Elbow & Shoulder Surgeon
North Adelaide Specialist Centre

Professor of Surgery,
College of Medicine & Public Health
Flinders University of Australia

Inaguaral President,
APOA Hand & Upper Limb Society

Council Member,
Federal and State AMA

Editor,
Hand & Upper Limb Sections
Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery

About Professor Edward (Ted) Mah

In a career spanning for more than 30 years, Professor Edward (Ted) Mah has worked tirelessly with and for the orthopaedic community both locally and internationally. He not only runs a busy private practice but he is also actively engaged in numerous health and medical research activities, training programs and clinical education throughout the Asia Pacific region, and as an external international examiner. Prof Mah has published numerous papers, authored several book chapters and has been recognised for a number of national and international awards and prizes. 

Prof Mah is currently the Professor of Surgery, College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University of South Australia, and Emeritus Professor at Shanghai University. He is the founding Head of the Department of Orthopaedics & Trauma, Northern Adelaide Local Health Network. Prof Mah is the Immediate Past President of the Asia Pacific Orthopaedic Association, as well as an immediate past Board Director of the Australia Orthopaedic Association and Director of Calvary Orthopaedic and Hand Care Centre in Adelaide, Australia.

Born in Ipoh, Perak in Malaysia, Prof Mah is the youngest of a large family of 11. His father worked in the tin mining business whilst his mother owned and ran a grocery shop. Together his parents instilled the values of hard work, honesty, generosity and mutual respect of his fellow man. At an early age Prof Mah showed outstanding academic promise. So much so, that in 1976, Prof Mah was selected to attend Melbourne High School, an Australian demonstration school at that time. With no family to support him in Australia, he lived in a share house with four elderly residents where he learnt to be independent virtually overnight.

Graduating in 1984 from Flinders University of South Australia, he completed his medical training in Emergency Medicine first and later in Orthopaedic Surgery in South Australia whilst simultaneously completed a research MD degree that explored the use of cell salvage and autologous blood for primary and revision hip and knee arthroplasty. Prof Mah’s landmark research received widespread recognition. To this day, these innovative, safe and effective practices are used everyday to save lives worldwide.

In 1997 Prof Mah concluded his Hand and Microsurgery Fellowship training with world renowned expert in Hand and Microsurgery, Professor Harold Kleinert, at the Kleinert Institute in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Prof Mah was offered a rare opportunity of a Consultant position in USA at the end of his training. However, Prof Mah chose to return to his home in Australia to begin his career in Hand, Upper Limb and Microsurgery in Adelaide.
Prof Mah’s extraordinary leadership, achievements, significant regional and global contributions are most visible in the following four global levels and six national levels:

Global / International impact:

Prof Mah’s influential leadership, hard work and commitment was most evident during his Presidential term between 2014-2016 for the Asia Pacific Orthopaedic Association (APOA), an international Orthopaedic organisation consisting of 22 member countries. Prof Mah played a pivotal leading role in uniting orthopaedic surgeons from these 22 member countries, resulting in membership of APOA soaring from 3,000 to approximately 50,000, thus establishing the APOA as the largest orthopaedic association in the world and driving key orthopaedic training reform, in his capacity as President. By 2020 APOA has 28 country members and over 65,000 members globally. Prof Mah showed exemplary leadership in his profession in bringing international distinction to Australia.

In 2016 Prof Mah was awarded Honorary Fellow of APOA, the highest honour of the Association, for his contribution to APOA. In 2017, he was awarded Corresponding Fellow of EFORT, and in 2018 he was awarded Honorary Fellow of EFORT, the only Australian surgeon to be given two such prestigious awards since its inception, for his contribution in world Orthopaedics by fostering international collaborations between the Asia Pacific Orthopaedic Association (APOA), European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedic Traumatology (EFORT – 41 countries), Societe Internationale de Chirugie  Orthopaudique et de Traumatologie (SICOT – 52 countries), Pan Arab Orthopaedic Association (12 countries) and AO Alliance Foundation. In 2018, together with Prof Onder Aydingoz of Turkey, Prof Mah was instrumental in the formation of International Association of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (AIOT), a global alliance linking all 5 international Orthopaedic associations. Prof Mah’s efforts have resulted in the globalisation of APOA membership.  By linking the orthopaedic community around the globe, Prof Mah has enhanced global cooperation in education, training, and research; as well as opening the gateway for international fellowship exchanges on the global stage.

Prof Mah remains as the Immediate Past President on APOA Executive Board and continues to assist and direct activities within the international organisation. He chaired the Federation Committee (2016-2018) and continues to negotiate and galvanise support from the various International Orthopaedic Associations to further promote collaboration and the interchange of orthopaedic knowledge, teaching and research in all corners of the world. Prof Mah is currently the Chairman of Awards and Nomination Committee of APOA.

Since 2012 Prof Mah has been the powerhouse behind APOA’s orthopaedic training reform, which seeks to harmonise the diverse orthopaedic training programs throughout the Asia Pacific. Common training targets have been identified and a uniform, structured training programme is currently being developed. Once adopted, this will allow for target-specific examination standards with emphasis on location-based needs. This new framework will also enable consistency and transparency in the training and examination process, thus achieving a comparable benchmark of the surgeon’s overall competency regardless of where the medical practitioner chooses to practice. Prof Mah has been a driving force in furthering orthopaedic training equality internationally and supporting the development of the next generation of orthopaedic professionals. In Oct 2019, Prof Mah convened a meeting with numerous Orthopaedic Assoc Presidents to discuss and identify Trauma Centres within APOA member countries as Centres of Excellence for Trauma education and Training, with great success.

In 1998, in conjunction with Professor S Raja Sabapathy in Ganga Hospital, Coimbatore, India, Prof Mah assisted in the creation of yearly hand surgery courses for doctors and hand therapists, which raised the standard of hand care in southern India. The courses have been successfully running for over a decade. In 2006, Prof Mah’s contribution in hand surgery in India was formally recognised by the Indian Society for Surgery of the Hand. Prof Mah was the second Australian to deliver the BB Joshi Oration for the Indian Society For Surgery Of The Hand, the highest honour conferred to a foreign (non-Indian) hand surgeon.

Prof Mah has taught hand, upper limb and microsurgery in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Cambodia and China. He enhanced the Latoka Hospital orthopaedic training program in Fiji as part of the Outreach Programme and as Director of Training for the Orthopaedic Outreach of the Australian Orthopaedic Association (2000-4). He supervised and was an examiner for the Master Program in Orthopaedic surgery at Port Moresby Hospital, PNG in 2007.

Prof Mah was awarded Emeritus Visiting Professor in 2004 for his contribution to Rui Jin Hospital in Shanghai, Shanghai Jiatong University, China; He has been formally acknowledged by the senior Orthopaedic Professors from two Shanghai universities (Fudan and Jiatong) for his outstanding teaching in Shanghai between 2000-2005.

Always active in his field, Prof Mah has published over many peer-reviewed papers and has authored 9 book chapters. He is currently Section Editor for the Journal of Orthopaedics and the Mercer textbook of Orthopaedics & Trauma, and sits on six Editorial boards. He has been the external examiner for Orthopaedic training for Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and China. In 2019 Prof Mah was awarded Best Editor’s Award by SAGE publication and Journal of Orthopaedics.

Prof Mah pioneered the concept and use of digital photography in clinical practice. He first presented this concept and technique as plenary lecture during the APOA Congress in 2000 in Adelaide and was immediately asked by the Editor of Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery (British) to publish as an Editorial article in JBJS (Br). The paper was published in J. Bone Joint Surg (Br) 86(1): 1-4, 2004

The Flinders University of South Australia has acknowledged Prof Mah as one of its distinguished alumni in February 2015. In 2016 Prof Mah was acknowledged for his contribution to establishment a Mentorship programme for medical students at the Flinders Medical School. 

Prof Mah was credited for the creation of APOA Young Ambassador programme in 2000 when he was the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer for the Australian Chapter of APOA. This has enabled younger surgeons within each APOA Chapter country to attend APOA Congresses, giving them a voice within the Association. Prof Mah also established many exchange Travelling Fellowships between APOA, EFORT, SICOT and PAOA.

With the aid of Prof Onder Aydingoz from Turkey, Prof Mah instigated an APOA Younger Surgeons Subcommittee in 2014 to develop their leadership qualities and to encourage the global exchange of ideas, knowledge and collaboration in research, teaching and service amongst younger orthopaedic surgeons.

As part of the centenary commemoration of Gallipoli in 2015, Prof Mah collaborated with Turkish Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology to bring about a historic orthopaedic meeting between members from APOA, Australia OA, NZ OA, and Turkish OA. New alliances between the respective nations of past foes were fostered during this historic event.

Prof Mah instituted an APOA Disaster subcommittee immediately after the Nepal earthquake in 2015. This effort pulled aids from India, Australia and Malaysia to support the relief effort in the aftermath. The subcommittee convened again directly after the Kumamoto earthquake in Japan in 2016.

Prof Mah has been a strong supporter and advocate for smaller and developing countries like Myanmar, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan to ensure that these countries are respected and promoted on a world stage. This was clearly demonstrated in 2016 when Prof Mah chose to visit Dhaka, Bangladesh Orthopaedic Society meeting, completely self-funded. This was in lieu of being remunerated to attend the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ meeting held in Florida around the same time.

Prof Mah founded the Clinical Hand & Upper Limb Fellowship program in Adelaide in 2001, which is accredited by the Australian Orthopaedic Association and Royal Australasian College of Surgeon. To this day, Prof Mah has trained 13 fellows from Australia, Sweden, Malaysia, India and NZ to name a few. Between 2001 and 2005 three qualified Malaysia surgeons furthered their training with Prof Mah. Upon successful completion of their training, they returned to their home country to offer their newly acquired skills to the community. As a result, the number of highly skilled surgeons in Hand and Microsurgery in Malaysia doubled immediately.

Prof Mah has been a generous contributor to the Florey Research Foundation, Adelaide University, for over 10 years (1999-2012); as well as more recent charity donations to his former school, Sam Tet School in Ipoh, Malaysia. A total of over $A 600,000 was donated over the years.

In 2016 Prof Mah launched an APOA Education Fund to support Orthopaedic educational activities within the Asia Pacific region and contributed $A20,000.00 raised from a charity auction during the APOA Congress in Melbourne. 

Regional / National impact:

Prof Mah was the Founding Director of Orthopaedics & Trauma Service at the Lyell McEwin Hospital for over a decade and the Head of Hand & Upper Limb Service at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital for 17 years. He played a leading role in the establishment of the orthopaedic service in what is now known as the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network. In 2020 at the Australian Day Celebration, Prof Mah was awarded Public Service Medal for his outstanding contribution to public Health in area of Orthopaedics in South Australia.

Prof Mah has also contributed as a immediate past Board Director on Australian Orthopaedic Association (AOA) Board; and prior to that he was a committee member for the Asia Pacific Committee of the AOA for over 10 years. Prof Mah has helped to shape the future directions of the AOA by facilitating the establishment of the formal Presidential exchanges between AOA and some 14 National Orthopaedic Associations in Asia Pacific; as well as instigating the creation of a travelling fellowship exchange for orthopaedic surgeons of AOA, ASEAN OA, Indian OA, Turkish OA and Asia Pacific Travelling bursary. Prof Mah served as Treasurer for the AOA (SA branch) for 14 years (1999-2013). He remains the longest serving Treasurer in history of AOA. Prof Mah is also a strong advocate to increase gender balance and female participation in Orthopaedic surgery. One recent example Prof Mah arranged to bring the AOA Road Show to Wilderness School, an all girls school in Adelaide in October 2017, in an attempt to inspire a new generation of women to consider a career in surgery.

During the 2016 APOA Congress in Melbourne, 15 registered delegates from Central Asia and South East Asia encountered difficulties obtaining entry visas to Australia. Prof Mah and the Congress Chairman personally wrote letters of support and contacted the various Australian Embassies and High Commissions. Their efforts culminated in successfully entry all 15 delegates to Australia.

Prof Mah instituted an APOA Disaster subcommittee immediately after the Nepal earthquake in 2015. This effort pulled aids from India, Australia and Malaysia to support the relief effort in the aftermath. The subcommittee convened again directly after the Kumamoto earthquake in Japan in 2016.

Prof Mah has been a strong supporter and advocate for smaller and developing countries like Myanmar, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan to ensure that these countries are respected and promoted on a world stage. This was clearly demonstrated in 2016 when Prof Mah chose to visit Dhaka, Bangladesh Orthopaedic Society meeting, completely self-funded. This was in lieu of being remunerated to attend the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ meeting held in Florida around the same time.

Prof Mah founded the Clinical Hand & Upper Limb Fellowship program in Adelaide in 2001, which is accredited by the Australian Orthopaedic Association and Royal Australasian College of Surgeon. To this day, Prof Mah has trained 13 fellows from Australia, Sweden, Malaysia, India and NZ to name a few. Between 2001 and 2005 three qualified Malaysia surgeons furthered their training with Prof Mah. Upon successful completion of their training, they returned to their home country to offer their newly acquired skills to the community. As a result, the number of highly skilled surgeons in Hand and Microsurgery in Malaysia doubled immediately.

Prof Mah has been a generous contributor to the Florey Research Foundation, Adelaide University, for over 10 years (1999-2012); as well as more recent charity donations to his former school, Sam Tet School in Ipoh, Malaysia. A total of over $A 6,000,000 was donated over the years.

In 2016 Prof Mah launched an APOA Education Fund to support Orthopaedic educational activities within the Asia Pacific region and contributed $A20,000.00 raised from a charity auction during the APOA Congress in Melbourne. 

Prof Mah has won numerous research awards including Board of Graduate Studies Award, Repatriation Hospital (SA), TQEH Postgraduate Education Scholarship, RJ Bauze prize (AOA, SA), Commonwealth HECSE Scholarship, Australasian College Emergency Medicine Prize, AO Scholarship, Ellen Price Surgical Research prize, Keith Dodridge Prize (SA Hand Surgery Society), WPOA Travelling Fellowship, Hong Kong Society for Surgery of The Hand Scholar, Australian Hand Surgery Society prize and Australian Chinese Medical Association Medal. In 2018 Prof Mah was awarded SA (Health) Minister’s Innovation Award for “Substitution Clinic” in NALHN. In 2019 Prof Mah, in collaboration Orthogeriatricians, Anaesthetists and Allied health, with won another SA Health Award for “Enhancing Patient Care”. In the same year, Prof Mah was conferred AMA (SA) highest award for “Outstanding Contribution to Medicine”. In 2020 Prof Mah received Public Service Medal at 2020 Australian Day Honour for “Outstanding service to public health in South Australia”

Andrew Carnegie once said “No man can become rich without himself enriching others”. Since 2000 Prof Mah has made clear and significant contributions to the local and global communities. Prof Mah has dedicated himself to making a difference, giving freely of his time, experience and money to enhance healthcare in Australia and third world countries. And in doing so, he has significantly improved the standard of medical education, training and service domestically and around the world.

Professor Edward (Ted) Mah is an inspirational example of what one person can accomplish. He demonstrates the sustained commitment to improving health outcomes and the standards of Orthopaedic education and training, through creations of collaborative working models amongst the Orthopaedic communities and Associations around the world. He unreservedly shares his knowledge, skill, personal wealth and his time, whilst challenging others in the community to do the same.