Obituary—Dr Ken Lambert

28. March 2018

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of AO Senior Trustee Dr Ken Lambert

Written by Dr Keith Mayo

Kenneth LambertKen Lambert died suddenly on December 23 of cardiac arrest. He was 79 years old.

Browsing the medical school library in 1971, Ken Lambert, a resident at the University of Missouri, discovered a manual in German that would change his understanding of orthopedics and re-direct his life. Undergraduate German and engineering helped him, but it was the x-rays that captured him. He began a correspondence with Martin Allgöwer and received an invitation from him to spend the summer in Basel with him at the Burgerspital. 

Upon completing his residency in 1972, Ken was awarded an AO Fellowship and spent the year in Davos. Where Stephan Perren was a generous and thought-provoking mentor. Ken then spent a month each with Professors Weber and Mueller followed by John Charnley and Richard Batten in England. 

With a passion for skiing and surgery he trained himself in the new field of arthroscopy and spent the next decades in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (US) using AO techniques on complex fractures and arthroscopy for soft tissue injuries. By the late '70s, he was repairing ACLs arthroscopically and, in the process, pioneering the use of interference screw fixation of grafts. He was a US Ski Team doctor. He taught for years at the annual AO Davos Courses as well as many trauma courses throughout North America. He was a Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a guest professor at Baltimore Shock Trauma. He won residents’ awards for Best Teacher and ran a trauma fellowship program from Jackson. He wrote articles, contributed to books, lectured, performed operations for surgical teaching videos, and served on the editorial board for The Journal of Orthopedic Trauma. He lived to solve clinical problems and had an uncanny ability to provide novel insight while helping define the boundaries of dogma which hinder us all. 

He spent years researching the potential of calcium bioceramics. After moving to Providence, Rhode Island in 2001, he worked as a consultant to companies developing these materials for orthopedic trauma. He was an Adjunct Professor of Engineering at Brown University, advising biomedical postdoctoral fellows. 

An enthusiastic reader and creative thinker, he reveled in absorbing conversations and loved to laugh. His interests and breadth of knowledge outside medicine were inspiring but not intimidating. He volunteered at the RI Free Clinic and saw patients right up until the end. 

He leaves behind Sandra, his wife of 53 years, his daughter, Christine Rayner, MD, and grandchildren.

For those fortunate to have known Ken, his legacy as a gifted clinician, patient advocate, insightful and caring teacher/mentor/researcher will live on in our efforts and those that follow.