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Germany’s fastest surgeon? Dr. Manuel Köhne

November 8, 2023 By Richard Lindhorst
Germany’s fastest surgeon? Dr. Manuel Köhne

If you want to be one of the best in your profession, you always have to deliver top performance. This applies especially to professional athletes and their teams. If you want to succeed in this environment, you need perfection – every day. This is exactly what Dr. Manuel Köhne strives for. He is one of the absolute specialists in knee surgery and, as chief team doctor of the German Ski Association (DSV), is responsible for the health of the best alpine athletes.

Manuel Köhne’s striving for perfection is also evident in his car. Manuel is a passionate Porsche driver and told me in a very personal conversation about the challenges he faces every day and why driving a Porsche helps him to meet the demands of his patients.

Dear Dr. Manuel Köhne, thank you very much for your time and welcome to Elferspot Porsche Talk! Please briefly introduce yourself to our users.

Hello Richard, thank you very much for the invitation! I am 44 years old, married and father of a daughter. We live in an old house built in 1907, in the countryside, just south of Munich. I’m a specialist in orthopaedics and trauma surgery as well as the German Ski Association’s chief team doctor.

Dr. Manuel Köhne with his dog in front of his Porsche 992 Targa
© Sascha Bartel

What did draw you into fast cars and Porsche in particular?

My father was the head controller at the BMW factory in Munich for many years. He had access to all the brand’s cars throughout his life. At the weekend, he sometimes got a “treat”. I thought to myself that as a doctor I would be able to afford such a great car one day. During my studies, I worked in the VIP fleet service at BMW and later even became a test driver. For a student, it was a great experience to drive cars like the BMW M6 or 760 with more than 500 hp, which were incredibly fast by the standards of the time.

For me, it was always about speed and pursuing perfection. I have also always been fascinated by professional skiing, especially the fastest discipline, downhill. It is the sporting discipline in which – apart from motor sports – the most speed is built up. That’s why I became aware of the private clinic “Orthopädische Chirurgie München” (Orthopedic Surgery Munich), or OCM for short, during my training as a junior doctor. A number of top athletes, including the aces of the national ski team, were treated there! I liked the idea of treating young, agile people who are all about speed and precision.

That’s why I quickly realized that I wanted to work there as an orthopaedic surgeon. Of course, it was a bonus to be able to get to the mountains quickly from Munich. So, to me, the package was perfect. At the time, Dr. Ernst-Otto Münch was the medical head of the ski team and, as a knee pioneer, one of the founders of the OCM. And this Dr. Münch always drove a Porsche! I was impressed by the fact that he not only operated on the fastest skiers, but also drove around in the fastest Porsches. Logically, I always looked in that direction, but thought it was unattainable.

So how did it work out after all?

For a couple of years I worked as an independent surgeon in OCM. In 2017, I was able to take over this large clinic with its own radiology department together with a total of nine partners. Since then, we have developed very well. Around 12,000 operations are performed in our clinic every year and we now have 170 employees. In the same year, I also became head team doctor for the German ski team.

Porsche really came into focus for Dr. Manuel Köhne during a track day. The performance of the Porsches around him fueled his desire for a 911. © Sascha Bartel

Initially, however, my work at DSV led me to Audi. There was a close cooperation between the two and so my first sporty car was an Audi TT RS. I really enjoyed driving it. Thanks to a few good contacts, I was allowed to take part in a Porsche Munich track day at the Salzburgring. Apart from a handful of BMWs and my Audi, there were only Porsches around me. I did quite well, but I was so impressed by the performance of the Porsches that I thought to myself “If I want to continue here, I’ll have to have a 911 at some point”.

And what kind of Porsche do you drive now?

I bought my first Porsche in 2018. It was a 992 Cabrio and it completely ignited my passion for the brand. That laid the foundation. It was clear to me relatively quickly that it wouldn’t be my last Porsche. In 2022, I traded it in for a Porsche 992 Targa 4S, which I drive all year round. Sure, I wouldn’t say no to a sporty Audi today, but Porsche totally captivated me and simply became my favorite brand.

As I also love old technology and the smell of gasoline, I wanted to buy a classic Porsche shortly afterwards. Originally, I had my eye on a 993, but that was too close to the new technology for me. After all, I wanted the contrast between the early days and the modern 992. And if it was going to be old, it would be best if it was from my own “year of manufacture”. So I started looking for a 1979 Porsche 911 in 2019. I didn’t find one at first, there simply wasn’t a suitable offer.

“During the test drive, it was immediately clear that it had to be this one” – Dr. Manuel Köhne

Then, at a patient’s wedding, I met a pilot from the Red Bull management team. Logically, we got talking about cars. And as luck would have it, he wanted to sell Porsche 911 G-Model. Due to a serious injury to his elbow, he could no longer shift through the gears of the 915 gearbox without pain. It was to be a 1978 911 SC, with matching numbers and in Ruby Red. It sounded like exactly the right car for me, even if the year of build didn’t quite match.

We exchanged business cards and stayed in touch. When things got a little more specific, he sent me the documents for the car. And guess what, the 911 was actually built in 1979! Technically, it had been completely overhauled. In 2012, the pilot rescued it from a horse shed. Afterwards, he had everything overhauled – engine, tires, seals… Everything was new! During the test drive, it was immediately clear that it had to be this one. I bought it in 2022 and use it as my Sunday car. When the weather is really nice, I also drive it to work.

A doctor in a Porsche is a bit of a cliché. Why do you think Porsches are so popular among doctors?

Speaking for myself, for example, it has to do with what Porsche stands for. For me, a Porsche is much more than just a car! Porsche stands for the values that my life has always been about: Dynamics, speed and precision. No car combines these characteristics better than the Porsche 911. It also stands for racing, competition, hard-earned goals and intelligent solutions.

Life as a sports physician and especially as a surgeon requires the same values. You have to make quick decisions and always deliver top performance. I perform around 1,000 knee operations per year, sometimes up to ten per day. Every single patient expects and hopes, quite rightly, for a one hundred percent result. And I don’t have the opportunity to simply “take it easy”. There are no training runs in surgery. There is enormous pressure to perform every single day.

And how do you manage to stay so focused?

During the first operations on professional athletes, I was totally stressed out. After all, they only have their body as capital. If I make a mistake, it prolongs their absence, and in the worst case it could even cost them their career. During this time, I learned that the best method for me was to focus on what I can do and just do it as I always have. Because if you want to do something particularly well, it usually gets worse.

At the wheel of his Porsche 911 SC, knee specialist Dr. Manuel Köhne can switch off. This is how he recharges his batteries so that he can give his best in every single one of his up to 1,000 operations a year. © Sascha Bartel

But in order to deliver consistently in this highly specialized, high-performance environment, we doctors also need to recharge our own batteries. Sporty driving helps me to do this. You don’t have time to think about work on the racetrack or on the mountain. You’re completely focused on other things.

Is your Porsche ever a topic in your office?

Porsche is even a frequent topic in the consultation! Many top athletes like to drive sports cars, many of them Porsches. That’s why it’s common for patients to put their Porsche keys on the desk. I also like to compare knee operations with Porsche repairs. If something breaks on my 911, I don’t go to just any garage, but to a Porsche specialist. Of course, any car mechanic can also work on a Porsche. But when the problem becomes more specialized, a less experienced technician reaches his limits.

Dr. Manuel Köhne and his friend Tibor Simai next to his Porsche 911 SC in Ruby Red
Dr. Manuel Köhne has already operated on countless top athletes. One of them is the former BMX rider Tibor Simai. Their mutual passion for Porsche has made them friends. © Sascha Bartel

Anyone who only does surgery on knees every day knows exactly where to “reach”. Just like the Porsche specialist who only works on 911s.

DSV team doctor Manuel Köhne

It’s very similar in medicine. Our knee is extremely important for us humans. At the same time, it is also very complex. That’s why knee surgery requires a lot of experience on the medical side. And it’s quite simple: anyone who only does knees every day knows exactly where to “reach”. Just like the Porsche specialist who only works on 911s.

Speaking of which: do you also work on your 911s yourself?

Yes, I’ve just discovered that for myself on the 911 SC. I repaired the heating and the mirrors on it, and did a bit of work on the electrics. I’m really glad that I’m doing it hands-on. Several friends who also drive old Porsches completely dismantle their cars themselves. One of them has even bought a former workshop to do his own work there. I haven’t quite got that far yet, but I do what I can myself. The car is basically self-explanatory and everything is easily accessible.

We surgeons are actually also craftsmen and work with screwdrivers all day anyway. They may be medical instruments, but the approach is similar. I also like to learn and wonder what the engineer’s thinking was behind certain solutions. And the approach to repairing a car is similar to that in surgery. A knee joint should be reconstructed simply, quickly and sustainably. The technical design of the 911 was based on the same principles.

How does working on it affect your relationship with the 911?

The emotion that you build up for such an old car grows even more when you have worked on it for the first time. Access to the old also creates a lot of respect for the new. Because you can feel the brand’s evolution over the decades. There is a world of difference between the G-Model and the 992. But it is precisely this combination of something traditional and an innovative, modern product that I find great. It’s exactly what I’ve always wanted.

Are your wife and daughter Porsche-infected in the same way?

My wife was totally thrilled after her first drive in the 992. She realized almost immediately that we would be driving Porsches more often in the future. My daughter thinks it’s a great hobby as well. And they both love the old SC! We enjoy taking part in classic car rallies with the SC. We even won our first classic car rally four weeks ago. After four hours of driving, we were half a minute ahead of the second car. That was a lot of fun. And even though I have to say, I pushed the old 911 to its limits, my wife still always felt safe. But we also enjoy traveling, diving together…

At some point I would like to pass on my Porsche 911 SC to my daughter.

Dr. Manuel Köhne

Basically, we celebrate the old together. Our house is over a hundred years old, furnished with lots of equally old furniture. Much of it has been passed down through the generations. In my eyes, that’s sustainability. High quality always endures and that fits in perfectly with the Porsche philosophy. I would like to keep it that way. At some point I would like to pass on my Porsche 911 SC to my daughter.

Before you look too far into the future, what else would you like to experience with your Porsches? And are there any other Porsches that you would like to call your own?

I would like to do more trackdays! But I also like the idea of participating in a drift training. In general, I’d like to have more contact with like-minded people. I like the unbiased nature of the Porsche community. It’s about experiencing things together and discussing things openly. Especially as more and more people in my circle of friends are opting for a classic Porsche. In terms of owning other Porsches, I would be interested in the two greatest extremes in Porsche history to date. Both a Porsche 356 and a Taycan are still very high up on my wish list, if you like.

Dear Dr. Manuel Köhne, thank you very much for your time and have fun with your future adventures. It was a pleasure!

Thank you, pleasure was all mine!

The way Dr. Manuel Köhne deals with the enormous responsibility of his day-to-day work deserves our absolute respect. At the same time, it’s remarkable that we share a passion for Porsche, regardless of our profession, and that we get a sparkle in our eyes when we talk about the matter.

© Sascha Bartel

Meet our contributor

Richard Lindhorst is our chief-editor and lives in Northern Germany. He thinks about cars and bikes almost 24/7. If you’ve got a story for him, or just want to get in touch, feel free to contact him on his Instagram (@rchrdlndhrst).

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