Karel Dlabal was born on 13.9.1927 in Štolmíř in a family of a technical officer. He was studying the grammar school in Český Brod in 1938–1946. At the end of 1944 he was involved in Technische Nothilfe (Technical Emergency Help), from where he left in April 1945. After a tragic death of his father he obtained civil scholarship at the Medical Faculty of the Charles University in Prague with a subsequent obligation to participate in the army for 1 year for every semester at the university. After the graduation of 1952, he started as a soldier working at the Army Medical Academy at the faculty in Hradec Králové at the Anatomy Department. He stayed there for four years and then he moved to the Training Institute in Ružomberok to the Surgery Department. There he passed his first level exam from surgery in 1954 and subsequently also the second level exam in 1958. After the termination of the contract with the Ministry of National Defence, he moved already as a civil person to the Surgery Department in Hradec Králové.
Based on the recommendation of professor Procházka, he was chosen to deal with the plastic surgery within the unit. Therefore he proceeded with training in the Department of Plastic Surgery in Prague from 1964–1967 under professor Burian. There he completed the training in 1967 and worked as a chief physician of the region for plastic surgery for the Eastern Bohemian Region. The defence of his postgraduate thesis in 1969 was not allowed due to his political attitude in 1968. However, he actively spoke in the regional and national meetings. He cooperated with the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry to improve hydrophilic breast implants and on the development of active artificial tendons.
The main interest was however hand surgery. Based on the recommendation of professor Karfík, he started to work as the head of department at the Institute for Plastic and Reconstructive Hand Surgery in Vysoké nad Jizerou. There he worked for 15 years and treated thousands of patients from the whole country. He was improving the methods of transferring fingers to a lost thumb, he was interested in muscle transfers after nerve palsies in the forearm and hand, he extended the spectrum of operations with the procedures from general plastic surgery. In 1990 he was appointed Associate Professor by his thesis defence related to the “Oponnens plasty for the thumb”. Since 1995 until 2003 he lived in Chotoviny by Tábor where he worked as a head of a Sanatorium for Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery. Long time while retired he still performed hand surgery at the Policlinics in Tábor.
He was a good teacher and within the Institute of Doctors and Pharmacists he was training surgeons and orthopaedists from the Czech and Slovak Republic and he had been in a friendly contact with many of them for a long time. Four years ago he published a book related to tendon transfers during palsies in the forearm and hand.
He obtained great awards during his life: In 1987, he obtained the title Meritorious Head of Department, Silver Medal of the Slovak Society of Hand Surgery for credit in the development of hand surgery during the separation of the countries, Honorary Citizenship of Vysoké nad Jizerou, Honorary Membership of the Czech Society for Surgery of the Hand in 2005. The last award was a Honorary Medal for credit in the development of Plastic Surgery on the congress in České Budějovice in November 2014, which he could not receive personally due to his illness. Dr. Karel Dlabal died on 1.12.2014.
Dr. Dlabal was a great surgeon, with great surgical skills and deep anatomical knowledge. He was able to proceed with new approaches within the plastic and reconstructive surgery, he was able to propose and accomplish new solutions. He was a brave surgeon and experienced doctor. Those who had the luck and could accompany him during his professional carrier and learn from him still value this possibility very much.
Alena Schmoranzová, M.D.
Chairman of the Czech Society for Surgery of the Hand
Hand and Plastic Surgery Institute, Vysoké nad Jizerou, Czech Republic