17. January 2017
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of AOVET founding member Prof Björn von Salis on January 9, 2017.
Prof Björn von Salis, who dedicated his life to horses and was well-known and respected as a veterinarian not only in Switzerland, but also across large areas of the world, passed away on January 9, 2017 in the Hospital of Frauenfeld, Switzerland.
As a teenager, Björn was taken to the local horse races. In the middle of a race one of the horses fell down because it broke its leg—it was shot dead at the spot. This was a crucial experience for this young spectator and it led him to become a veterinarian —one that successfully worked all his life to improve medicine and surgery for horses and small animals. He told himself that things like this can’t be tolerated, and the rest of his life he looked for solutions for this problem; he was instrumental in developing equine inhalation anesthesia and was the first equine practitioner worldwide who developed an emergency and recue service for equine athletes.
Björn was the first veterinarian who got in contact with Fritz Straumann, who was developing and manufacturing instruments and implants (bone plates and screws) for AO at the time. Fritz Straumann was an enthusiastic animal lover and supported every aspect that allowed the animals to profit from the advancements made in fracture management in humans. He supported a small group of veterinarians and facilitated their training in the use of the AO instruments by key AO human surgeons. In 1969 AOVET was founded, and Björn was elected its first President and worked in this function for ten years, building a worldwide organization that drastically improved the management of musculoskeletal injuries.
Björn was one of the first veterinary practitioners that built and managed a very successful private hospital for horses and small animals. There he was a leader in fracture management and showed the world that proximal phalanx fractures can be treated with a few bone screws and was also instrumental in the development of the proximal interphalangeal arthrodesis technique in horses.
In 1988 Björn was appointed Professor for Equine Surgery at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, a position he cherished for three years. His capacity to speak Swedish fluently was a great help during this time.
Upon his return to Switzerland he founded the Swiss Large Animal Rescue Service, which is currently a very successful organization across all of Switzerland and Lichtenstein. The professionalism of this service has resulted in a much greater success rate after fracture treatment for the patients that received first aid and transport to the surgery clinics.
Björn is survived by his wife, Cathrin, and five adult children. Alongside all his professional duties, Björn always cherished family life.
Björn, thank you for all you did for the horses and for AOVET. You were an inspiration and we will cherish the time we could spend together through all these years. We now wish you the peace that you so well deserve.
Your friends at AOVET