When I first walked into the Plastic Surgery unit as a junior registrar at Castle Hill Hospital, Hull, UK and met Dr M Riaz Malik, I did not realise that in the coming years, he would totally change my impression of the “Pakistani Plastic Surgeon”. Humble, polite and soft-spoken, Dr M Riaz Malik is a dedicated Plastic Surgeon, who is admired by his patients, respected by his colleagues and is also an obedient son, a dedicated father, a loving husband and a proud Pakistani.
Dr M. Riaz Malik was born in a remote Village, Sirhall, Tehsil Naushehra, and District Khushab. At five his father who was an officer in the army took him to Multan for better education. Dr Riaz was 7 when the 1965 Indo-Pak war broke out, and he was given the choice to either continue his education in Multan or to go back to his mother and family in Khushab. He opted for the former and spent his educational years in hostels. Dr M. Riaz Malik matriculated from Muslim High School and did FSc from Government College, Bosan Road, Multan.
For medical education, he had the option of joining King Edward Medical College, Lahore or Nishtar Medical College, Multan. He chose the later graduating in 1983. He worked in Nishtar Hospital for five years before leaving for the UK.
Dr M. Riaz Malik’s postgraduate studies and training continued in Scotland and Ireland and by 1991 he had passed his post-graduation examinations and started specialist training in Plastic Surgery in Belfast. He passed FRCS(Plast) in 1998 and worked as a consultant for one year before he moved back to Pakistan. Dr M. Riaz Malik worked voluntarily at Nishtar Hospital for three years from January 1999. He was appointed Honorary Assistant Professor. In 2000 he established a Burn Unit at Nishtar Hospital. Professionally Dr M. Riaz Malik considers those three years as the best part of his medical career. In 2002 he moved back to the UK and started work in Belfast. He then progressed to a permanent consultant post at Castle Hill Hospital, Hull, the UK in January 2004.
One of the senior Consultants at the same hospital, Dr Nick Hart, had established a charity called OPSA (Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal), which was sending a medical team to Pakistan annually to operate on children with cleft lip and palate. Dr M Riaz Malik joined OPSA as a trustee. Since 2004, he has been holding cleft camps in Gujrat, Pakistan on a biannual basis with the assistance of Dr Ijaz Basheer and his family who are the hosts of the UK team in Pakistan. Dr Ijaz Basheer runs PCLAPA (Pakistan Cleft Lip and Palate Association). This collaboration has resulted in Gujrat becoming a well-known centre for cleft surgery in Pakistan. A modern cleft hospital was inaugurated in early 2012 in Gujrat. Dr M Riaz Malik aims to train local Plastic Surgeons to provide this service.
Dr M Riaz Malik is extremely passionate about Pakistan and is always in the lead to help his countrymen. In 2005 Dr M Riaz Malik came to Pakistan on three occasions to operate on victims of the 2005 earthquake in Abbottabad, Muzaffarabad and In Islamabad. As Clinical Head of MIAT (Midland International Aid Trust) based in Birmingham, UK, Dr M Riaz Malik has collaborated with Basheer Hospital, Gujrat to initiate a project to create awareness about breast cancer in Pakistan and also to provide free and treatment facilities in Gujrat. He has also collaborated with some charities to arrange $100,000 funding to refurbish the Burn Unit at Nishtar Hospital, Multan.
Dr M Riaz Malik is also a dedicated teacher and trainer both in the UK and in Pakistan. He lectures and trains junior plastic surgeons in Lahore and Multan during his visits to Pakistan. He has been invited as guest speaker to lecture on Facial cosmetic surgery in Ireland and
Pakistan. His curriculum vitae is full of academic qualification, international publications in peer-reviewed journals, courses and conferences. On the front of innovation and creativity as a Plastic Surgeon, Dr M Riaz Malik has gained recognition for his technique for correction of cleft nose deformity in Gujrat, which has been presented in Pakistan and also in the UK and other international meetings. This technique won the Douglas Murray and Mercian award when it was presented in Birmingham in September 2011, and this award was acknowledged by PAPS in February 2012.
At a recent Iftar at Dr M Riaz Malik’s home, we patiently wait for the azan as Dr M Riaz Malik passionately narrates his love for Pakistan. It's hard to imagine that we are in his Yorkshire countryside home, and it feels like we are in Pakistan because the aromas of Pakistani food blend immaculately with the spirit of his patriotism for his land. He dedicates his success in life to his upbringing and his education in Pakistan, which he firmly believes has been the foundation of everything in his life.
But he does not simply wish to be a “verbally” proud Pakistani. He wishes to practically help the people of his country as much as possible in an attempt to pay back to his alma mater in some small way.