Ralph worked as a family doctor before entering his surgical training in the Toronto program in 1972. In 1973, he became a member of the CSPS. He was the first surgeon in Toronto to begin development of microvascular surgery and visited China in the late 1970s to observe their techniques in this field. Ralph was the Chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Toronto General Hospital from 1979 to 1996. During that time, the Toronto replantation team was started by him and he very rapidly became recognized as an authority in replantation and microvascular surgery. He assumed the position of Division Chair from Dr. W. K. Lindsay in 1986. Under his 10 year term, the idea of subspecialty practice became established and today the division prides itself in having centers of excellence in several different areas of practice including Burn Surgery, Microvascular Surgery, Pediatric Plastic Surgery, Craniofacial Surgery and Hand Surgery.
His clinical and technical skills were legendary. He performed the first segmental microneurovascular muscle transfer for facial paralysis in 1984. In 1986, he authored the first single-authored microsurgery textbook entitled“Microvascular Reconstruction: Anatomy, Applications, and Surgical Technique” which continues to be a reference to this day. Manktelow performed the first hand re-plantation in Canada, the first thumb re-plantation in Canada, and the first finger re-plantation in Canada.
For many years, he and his partner, Dr. Ron Zuker would perform a team approach to free functioning muscle transfer for facial reanimation. He was integral to the establishment of the multi-disciplinary Hand Unit at the Toronto Western Hospital in the 1990’s.
In addition to being a member of all of the major plastic surgery, hand and microsurgery societies, Dr. Manktelow has held numerous hospital and university appointments, has lectured widely and has published over 200 articles and book chapters. He was honored by the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.
But his accomplishments do not stop in the operating room. Ralph is a remarkable athlete and expert rower having won gold medals in the Master’s Olympics for rowing. In 2009 Hanlan Boat Club friends donated a new trophy to the Henley Regatta for the Master’s Men G single to honor the achievements of Dr. Ralph Manktelow both on the race course and in developing the skills and participation of Masters Rowing. He has lectured on motivation and performance in sports and surgery.
His name is honored at the University of Toronto with the annual Ralph T. Manktelow Hand Symposium.