Happy 80th birthday!

Suthorn Bavonratanavech (left) making a presentation
to Prof Weller at the AOAA Asian Chapter Symposium
held in Chiangmai, Thailand, in May 2004

Two tributes to Prof Weller upon the occasion of his 80th birthday

My first encounter with Prof Weller was one of apprehension and uneasiness. He had a very serious look, spoke with clarity, and was quite straightforward. As I was tasked with building up AO education in Thailand, I soon realized that I had to communicate with this strict professor quite often. He worked in a very systematic order with great discipline and dedication.
As time went on we got to know each other better as well as other members of his staff. I started to appreciate the value of his work ethic and his particular attention to the post course reports of his staff and faculty. In 1989, Prof Weller asked me to join him as part of the international faulty in Taipei. The uneasiness and apprehension soon returned as I was reluctant to accept the invitation.
Prof Weller as many know him from AO Courses
Like a true teacher he sent me a letter assuring me that I was capable of the task and more important I had to do it to prove that Asian surgeons can apply the AO Principles just as well as European surgeons.
Since then I have been more active and involved in the different AO courses held in Asia. I consider him as my role model of a surgeon, a hard worker on his craft, honest and sincere but most of all a great teacher.
I am extremely grateful for what he has done and given not only to me personally but to the numerous Asian surgeons who benefited from his missionary work spreading the AO in Asia.
Like a true gardener, his 30 years of work and wisdom in nourishing AO education in Asia is now bearing fruit with the AO Asia Pacific Region forming one of the biggest regional divisions of the AO Family.
On his 80th birthday, I wish him good health and long life to continue imparting his wisdom among us. Succeeding in almost everything, he has shown us the life of a real surgeon.

Dr Suthorn Bavonratanavech
Education Chairman
AO Trauma Asia Pacific

Prof Weller

Siegfried Weller: More than 35 years of contribution to AO in Asia 

Professor Siegfried Weller celebrates his 80th birthday on July 28, 2008, in Tübingen in Germany, a city where he worked and has lived since he was appointed Head of the BG-Trauma-Hospital (Unfallklinik) there in 1969.

His career

While being trained as a youngster aged 26 in Kings County Hospital in New York City he realized his passion for trauma care and received his further medical training in Freiburg University Hospital in Germany. In 1958, the AO was founded in Switzerland and Siegfried Weller became a member of AO Switzerland in 1961. With the development of AO techniques, trauma care changed more and more from conservative to operative treatment. In 1966 Siegfried Weller was promoted to Head of the first Department of Traumatology in Germany at Freiburg University Hospital. In 1969, he moved to Tübingen in Germany to become Head of the BG-Trauma Hospital.
In 1970 he was one of the founding members and President of the German AO section until 1991. He served as President of the AO Foundation from 1994 until 1996. That same year, Siegfried Weller retired at the age of 68 as Head of the BG-Trauma Hospital and Chair of Traumatology at Tübingen University—but he did not retire as an AO teacher, continuing to teach mainly in Asia.

Involvement in teaching in Asia

After a lecture tour to Osaka in Japan in 1966, it was in 1974 when Siegfried Weller came for his first AO Course to India together with Prof Hans Willenegger, one of the AO’s founding members and a passionate AO teacher himself.
Prof Weller (left) with his wife Karin pictured at a
traditional meal in Asia
In the following years Siegfried Weller was the AO missionary not only in India but also in other countries like Japan, Thailand, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Indonesia. There he met and made very good friends who supported and continued their fruitful cooperation.
It is impossible to mention all of them but Prof Kashiwagi in Japan, Dr Suthorn in Thailand, Prof KY Kim in South Korea, and Prof Mohandas in India were, and still are, companions who developed and formed AO philosophy and trauma care in their countries and all over Asia in an effective and lasting way.
However, India remained the country which at that time Siegfried Weller found to be so much in need of help that he returned once or even several times a year, not only to teach doctors and ORP but even to operate on patients in various hospitals all over the subcontinent. In fact he spent so much of his free time in Asia that finally an Indian friend and colleague brought up the question “Why don’t you stay in India and once in a while visit Germany?”
Over the years, the economy and health care system in many Asian countries improved. The AO philosophy spread over the continent and Siegfried Weller was, and still is, a very important motor in that movement.

Honoring Siegfried Weller on his 80th birthday

This year the AO is celebrating its 50th anniversary all over the world, including in many Asian countries such as Japan or Thailand. As a sign of high respect that Siegfried Weller is held in, and in recognition of his successful efforts in transporting the AO Spirit all over the world for more than 35 years, it is fitting that he too be honored on the occasion of his 80th birthday. You can be sure that as long as his health and his wife Karin allow him to travel, he will definitely come to Asia!
From the depths of our hearts we wish him all the best and thank Siegfried Weller for his tremendous contribution and efforts to improve trauma care for the benefit of all our patients.
Heiner Winker
AO Trustee, Germany

A group photo of the AO Courses held in Thailand in 2004 with Prof Weller (center) seated beside Suthorn Bavonratanavech