King's Old Boy

John Barr —

O.N.Z.M. Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit Emeritus Professor Alexander Keith Jeffery, of Dunedin. For services to orthopaedics.

Professor Alexander Keith Jeffery attended King's High School from 1948 to 1952.

At King's, Keith was a prefect and played rugby as a loose forward in the First XV. He was awarded a Blue for rugby in 1952 and gained High School Certificate and an Honourable mention at the end of year prize giving. He also received a prize for being the most efficient gunner in the School’ Cadet force’s Artillery Platoon.

On leaving school Keith won a place at the Otago Medical School and graduated in 1958. He subsequently worked in Dunedin Hospital as a house surgeon. After two years, Keith had decided to specialise in orthopaedic surgery. In 1965, he went to the UK to undertake specialist training, very quickly becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1965. He held posts in Oswestry, Oxford, and Exeter. Back in New Zealand Keith performed one of the first hip replacement operations in New Zealand.

In 1968 he was appointed as specialist orthopaedic surgeon at Dunedin Hospital, a position he held until 2000. He gained his FRACS and in 1975 he completed his ChM (Otago). During 1972 he was an ABC Travelling Fellow travelling through North America. He revisited the University of Oxford as a Commonwealth Fellow in 1976 – 1977 and in 1989 was awarded the Gold Medal and guest lectureship at Oswestry.

In 1982, Keith became Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery in Dunedin. He was a world authority on the structure and function of articular cartilage. With Mark Walton he created a well-respected research department which attracted post-graduate students. He also had a keen interest in the management of amputees and the science of prosthetics, and served on the Artificial Limb Board for many years.

He loved teaching, especially undergraduates, for whom his tutorials were superbly planned and illustrated. His bedside teaching was inspiring.

Keith became the 25th President of the NZOA in 1993. Keith was well known in British orthopaedics and in particular Oswestry, Oxford and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London, where he spent a number of sabbaticals working on cartilage research. In 2007 he was presented with the NZOA President's Award for services to the Association. In 2003 Keith became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Orthopaedic Surgery.