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10 Minutes with...


Mr Khai Lam

Consultant Paediatric and Adult

Spinal Reconstructive Spinal Surgeon

FRCS (Edin), FRCS (Trauma and Orthopaedics)



Mr Lam has over 20 years’ experience and

helped establish the internationally renowned

Spinal Unit at Guy’s Hospital London. He now

works at the newly accredited AOSpine Centre

at London Bridge Hospital.

Mr Lam’s work is covered in excess of 100 published scientific

papers and presentations internationally. He is regarded as

a pioneer in innovative spinal surgery procedures, especially

minimal invasive spine surgery, a key opinion leader in disc

replacements and paediatric deformities, and has been a surgical

training supervisor to over 100 advanced training fellowships for

Spinal Surgeons internationally.

Mr Lam was the first British recipient of the Gold Medal of Honour

presented by Mde Chirac of France on behalf of EEDCM and on

29th June 2016, His Majesty King Kigeli V of Rwanda honoured

him as a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of the Lion for his

work training surgeons from Africa.

Why did you decide to study medicine?

Both my grandfather and father were prominent doctors in their

field, working in Malaysia. As a young boy, I often followed my

father to his clinic and I was able to observe how fulfilling and

rewarding it was in the way he dedicated his life to this vocation,

and hence it was my father that inspired me to study medicine.

What made you pursue your specialty?

I was privileged to work for Professor Robert Mulholland and John

Webb as a junior doctor based at the renowned Spinal Unit at

Nottingham. I was exposed to treatment of all spinal disorders and

they were able to motivate me to develop minimal invasive spine

surgery, which I am now considered a pioneer in.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I have been very fortunate to be in the position to design and track

the development of specialised spinal surgical implants, and then

utilise them to help children with spinal deformities. It is always a

delight to see the cheerful smile of a child with a straight spine, as

well as the smiles of their parents. Also, working as a UK pioneer

in minimal invasive spine surgery, it is gratifying to see how this

technique has now been adopted as a conventional technique

that allows fast post-surgical recovery and early return back to

work and sports.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I enjoy many hobbies ranging from cooking, classical music and

opera, mountaineering, to sports such as running, Formula 1, tennis,

cricket and rugby. I find opera most enjoyable because of its

ability to transform motion and music into personal relaxation and

peaceful harmony.

What is the title of your ‘best read’ so far?

One of my most recent reads was ‘

Sylvia, Queen of the


’. Sylvia Brooke was the spouse of HH Sir Vyner

Brooke, last Rajah of Sarawak, an English ruling dynasty of

Borneo between 1841 and 1946. It was a fascinating historical look

into the interaction of the British Empire with the Far East during

Victorian and Edwardian times.

If you could invite three people to dinner,

living or dead, who would they be?

As an opera fan, I would invite Enrico Caruso, Mario Lanza and

Luciano Pavarotti to see who can sing

‘Vesti la giubba’


‘Put on

the costume’

) the best. It is a moving tenor aria from Ruggero

Leoncavallo’s 1892 opera

‘i Pagliacci’

, sung at the end of the first

act. Canio discovers his wife’s infidelity, but must nonetheless

prepare for his performance as Pagliacci the clown because ‘’the

show must go on’’.

What is special about where you grew up?

I grew up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My father was a prominent

ENT surgeon, so we grew up in a world that combined academic

rigour with tropical comforts.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

As I live in busy London, my favourite escapes are to the

wilderness. I had a great experience waking up in a log cabin

facing Mount Denali (aka ‘the tall one’ formerly Mount McKinley)

that is situated in the vast expanse of Denali National Park

covering eight million acres of the Alaskan wilderness. Our days

were spent trekking the mountainous arctic tundra and avoiding

the grizzly bears.

Who would you get to play yourself in a movie?

George Clooney would play ‘a day in the life of a spinal surgeon’.

However, he will have to refrain from performing any stunts

following his devastating spinal injury, which occurred in 2005

whilst filming the movie,


. He will have to stick to being

charismatic, charming and gracious.


For more information, please contact the

GP Liaison Department


T: 020 7234 2009