Malaysia's Hand Surgery History

Specific treatment for hand related problems began for treatment of leprosy related hand problems. A leprosarium was set up in Sungai Buloh. In the 1960s Dr. K Thambyrajah worked in this hospital which has inpatient and outpatient facilities. According to him, Dr. Daksinamoorthy preformed 20-30 procedures month on the hands and feet. They preformed among other operations Brand's tailed tendon transfers and also oppensplasties to help optimise hand function due to this debilitating disease. Dr. Grace Warren and Dr. James Hargrave have also helped treat patient and train our doctors during their visits here. The Leprosy Mission of England initiative also brought Senior Therapist like Miss Jean Watson to help in the rehabilitation efforts. Dr. K Thambyrajah was also noted to have done 2 fellowships with Mr Pulvertaft in Royal Derbyshire Infirmary.

Universiti Malaya our first local medical institution had been at the forefront bringing hand surgery to the next level. Professor P. Balasubramaniam as Head, encouraged Dr. K Thambyrajah to start a microsurgery practise laboratory there. The wrist replantation was done by Professor P. Balasubramaniam in 1983.

Dato Dr. Abdul Hamid bin Kadir had also underwent a fellowship with Mr. Campbell Semple in the UK. He had also a formed a Microsurgery laboratory in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. In 1983 as secretary of the Malaysian Orthopaedic Association, he had helped organise a Hand course in Malaysia with famous invited faculty such as S.P. Chow and P.C. Leung from Hong Kong, Venkatasami from India, Campbell Semple from the UK and Robert Pho from Singapore.

Subsequently the interest in Hand and Microsurgery grew as new Surgeons such Dr. V. Pathmanathan and Dr. R. A. Vaikunthan did fellowships abroad at the Kleinert Institute of Hand Surgery in Louisville, Kentucky. Upon their return and enthusiasm together with Dr. Abdul Hamid started the Malaysian Socitey for Surgery of the Hand (MSSH) on the 3rd of March 1993. Other prominent figures include Mr. Nathan Vythialingam as a senior therapist was active in the Hand Therapy initiative and the MSSH.

The 1st Malaysian Conference on Surgery and Rehabilitation of the Hand was organised in 1993 followed by others with many distinguished speakers from Singapore, India, UK and the US.

The MSSH logo as you see on our webpage was designed by our Prof Dato Dr. Tengku Sara and adopted in 2007 which reflects diverse cultures and discipline interwoven to serve and work towards excellence.

The First Hand and Microsurgery Department in the Ministry of Health Malaysia was setup in 1998 by Dr. V. Pathmanathan. On the 8th of May 2000 achieved the World's first Upper Limb transplant on 1 month old Chong Lih Ying using her short lived twin with brain abnormality . It was the world 9th hand related transplant and the world first Upper Limb transplant which took about 36 hours. The child is now actively using both her upper limb for various activities including swimming.

Hand training in Malaysia under the Ministry of Health has also begun since 2004 with Dr. Chuah Chee Kheng followed by Dr. Rashdeen Fazwi. We see the number interested Surgeons rising and continue to see growth in the field in the present and future.