That’s dedication: honoring the career of Dr. Ken Mattox

The career of one of Houston’s most renowned trauma surgeons and medical educators was recognized and honored at an April 7 dedication ceremony for the Kenneth L Mattox, M.D., Surgical Suite at Ben Taub Hospital.

Dr. Kenneth L. Mattox.

Dr. Kenneth L. Mattox.

Mattox, Distinguished Service Professor at Baylor College of Medicine, served as chief of staff at Ben Taub Hospital, part of the Harris Health System, for 31 years before stepping down in 2020. He has been part of the Baylor family for more than 60 as a student, trainee and faculty leader.

Colleagues and former trainees gathered along with family and friends for the dedication to share recollections of Dr. Mattox and how he influenced, inspired and shaped their careers and lives.

Perhaps no one encapsulated the impact of Dr. Mattox more than Dr. Eric Silberfein, associate professor of surgery at Baylor and chief of general surgery and surgical oncology at Ben Taub, who trained under Mattox. Silberfein recounted one of his early interactions with Dr. Mattox where they treated a patient severely wounded by a gunshot. Silberfein was in awe of Mattox and convinced that he had performed inadequately, even though he and other junior residents had read every word of Mattox’s book, “Top Knife,” the ultimate guide for trauma surgeons. In the end, Silberfein was praised by his mentor: “Dr. Silberfein, you just saved this man’s life You’re going to be ok, son,” Mattox said to him.

“I learned a lot from you, Dr. Mattox,” Silberfein said. “Things like integrity and humility, and I learned ownership and accountability and how to be a good physician because of the principles you taught all of us in this room.”

Dr. Eric Silberfein with his copy of "Top Knife," Dr. Mattox's guide for trauma surgeons.

Dr. Eric Silberfein with his copy of “Top Knife,” Dr. Mattox’s guide for trauma surgeons.

Silberfein closed by asking Dr. Mattox to sign page 119 of “Top Knife,” the page that described the procedure they performed together years ago.

Others speaking at the dedication included Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, president and CEO of Harris Health, Dr. Sandeep Markan, associate professor of anesthesiology at Baylor who replaced Mattox as Ben Taub chief of staff, and Dr. James McDeavitt, executive vice president and dean of clinical affairs at Baylor.

McDeavitt noted Dr. Mattox’s leadership during natural disasters, including Hurricane Harvey, where Mattox’s own home was flooded.

“On behalf of Dr. Klotman and Baylor College of Medicine, I want to thank you for all you have done,” McDeavitt said. “Coming on the heels of the NCAA National Championship in basketball, I think it’s appropriate to say that you are the Mike Krzyzewski of Baylor, or more appropriately, Coach K is the Ken Mattox of Duke University,” he added, referencing the Duke men’s basketball coach who just retired after a 40-plus year career at the university.

Read more about Dr. Mattox’s career in this BCM Family story.

By Dana Benson