AO Trauma remembers Prof Oldřich Čech
01 September 2020
The AO Trauma community is mourning the death of Prof Oldřich Čech, founder of AO Trauma activities in the Czech Republic and a key figure in Czech orthopedics. He died peacefully on August 19, 2020, with his wife Hedvika and children, Heda and Oldřich, by his side.
Čech was born on July 19, 1928 in Prague, Czech Republic. After graduating from Charles University in Prague, he began his professional career in Kladno. In 1957, he became a secondary surgeon in the First Orthopedic Clinic in Prague, where he worked under the supervision of professor Jan Zahradníček.
In 1965, Čech met Prof Maurice E Müller, a founder of the AO and, at that time, the head of the orthopedics and traumatology department at the hospital in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Čech considered Müller to be the most impactful tutor. In 1966, Čech had an opportunity to work with Müller at his department, an experience that was repeated on several occasions over the years. Influenced by the AO, Čech took initial AO skeletal traumatology concepts back to the former Czechoslovakia and implemented the principles of modern fracture fixation. He organized the first AO Trauma symposium 1968, but his efforts were interrupted by the Soviet army’s invasion of the country. He reestablished AO activities in the country in 1990 after the collapse of communist regime.
As early as 1969, in Prague, Čech implanted the first Müller-type cemented hip endoprosthesis.
A crucial result of his collaboration with the AO was a monograph, Pseudoarthrosis, jointly written with Prof BG Weber. For this monograph, which is still considered a fundamental text, Čech earned the international Steinmann award in 1972. The monograph was published in multiple foreign languages and its classification and the therapeutic concept were taken over by Campbell textbook and the Manual of Internal Fixation published by the AO-ASIF group. As a result, Čech became well-known in the global academic community.
“Oldřich Čech created the fundamental professional literature in the Czech Republic in modern trauma surgery, and joint replacement as well,” said AO Trauma Czech Republic Council Chairperson Jiří Skála-Rosenbaum. “With absolute certainty, Professor Čech was the most important person in Czech orthopedics and traumatology for the last 50 years.”
Prof. Zdenek Klezl, Past AO Trustee, Czech Republic, recalled: “Prof. Cech was a real personality, and a very pleasant one. His friendly approach to his colleagues and patients created a pleasant atmosphere to work in. He was a great teacher, a caring doctor, a person with natural authority, an excellent and quick “physiological” surgeon and a visionary. He will be greatly missed by his family, many friends and three generations of colleagues.”