It is a great honor to write this tribute for our long-term mentor, critic, teacher, and most important of all, our close friend, Jeff Mast. Born on September 7, 1940, in Easton, New York, Jeff is the son of a renowned artist/educator, Gerald Mast. Dr Mast's preoperative planning and operative skills reflected this artistic background. As an outstanding athlete, he was an expert skier and was a walk-on at the University of Colorado football team. His career spanned an early Peace Corps participation in Tibet and Vietnam to becoming one of the top 2 contemporary hip reconstruction surgeons in the world. His career was spent in learning new techniques and perfecting them. A chance management of a patient referred from Southeast Asia to Maurice Muller in Bern for hip surgery created the initial Muller-AO contact. Thereafter, his interest turned to orthopaedic trauma surgery. He spent more than 2 years in Switzerland being influenced by Muller's hip surgery and heavily inspired by AO concepts. There he also developed a close association with Reinhold Ganz, MD, one which would last his entire career. Another contemporary was his close friendship with the esteemed acetabular surgeon, Emile Letournel. He would travel with Emile and his “La Bande de Letournel” worldwide, teaching their craft.
In 1989, together with Drs Ganz and Jacob, Jeff wrote the book “Planning and Reduction Techniques in Fracture Surgery,” and from its original publication, changed orthopaedic trauma surgery. This deviation from rigid AO doctrine was initially thought by previous AO generations as heresy. Using incredibly detailed images, it promoted the concepts of preoperative planning, using the plate implant as a reduction instrument, the concept of minimally invasive surgery, restoration of extremity length and axis using indirect reduction and bridging of comminuted fracture zones, and ultimately refined Hardi Weber Mini-Max technique of using the least amount of metal for the maximal fixation effect (Fig. 1). Its study is essential to the training of the modern orthopedic trauma surgeon.
Jeff's uncanny ability to draw the skeleton, the perfect osteotomy angle of correction, the appropriate implant size and dimension, (usually a blade plate), and then be able to overlay his preoperative plan on the postoperative radiograph to be exactly perfect to his final surgical result, without using templates was mesmerizing.
The consummate educator, he would often be seen as the last person to leave the classroom or teaching laboratory where he had spent time addressing a range of questions, from the easiest to the most complex operative technique. He was more often than not the teacher's teacher. In his later years, he would not hesitate to travel far and wide to help his disciples with difficult surgical cases and preoperative planning. These kinds of visits were unique to Jeff and an invaluable experience for all of us lucky enough to have the master present in our operating rooms. We who know him personally, as well as the thousands of students he taught throughout his professional life, are indebted to this man for his erudite, visionary teaching, his pursuit in the achievement of the perfect operative result and his unending courage to take on increasingly more difficult cases. His impact on the advancement of orthopaedic trauma and reconstructive surgery cannot be measured.