Dr Victor Chang, AC
As a gifted surgeon, respected humanitarian and skilled campaigner, Dr Victor Chang was a pioneer of the modern era of heart transplantation.
His achievements include developing Australia’s National Heart Transplant Program at St Vincent’s hospital, which has since performed more than 1200 successful heart, heart-lung, and single lung transplants since 1984. He also saw the incredible value of research – playing a key role in development of an artificial heart valve and, in later years, an artificial heart.
Victor Chang (Yam Him) was born in Shanghai to Australian-born Chinese parents in 1936. He came to Australia in 1953 as a student at the Christian Brothers College, Lewisham. In 1962 he graduated from Sydney University with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree, becoming an intern and, later, a registrar in cardiothoracic surgery at St Vincent’s Hospital.
Travelling overseas to extend his skills, Dr Chang attained a Fellowship in Surgery from the English and American College of Surgeons and returned to St Vincent’s Hospital in 1972, where he worked with the renowned Dr Harry Windsor and Dr Mark Shanahan.
During the 1980′s Dr Chang lectured extensively in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. He also founded the Australasian-China Medical Education and Scientific Research Foundation, which sponsored South-East Asian doctors, nurses and students to work in Australia and take improved skills and quality of care back to their home countries.
At the same time, he helped teams from St. Vincent’s travel to China, Singapore and Indonesia where they shared their medical, surgical, nursing, hospital administration and audiovisual expertise.
In 1986 Dr Chang was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia, while the University of New South Wales awarded him its highest degree of M.D. Honoris Causa for “scholarly achievement and humanitarian endeavour”.
Victor Chang died in tragic circumstances in Sydney on 4 July 1991.
He was an honorary Professor of Surgery to the Chinese Academy of Medical Science in Peking; an honorary Professor of Surgery to Shanghai Medical School; official adviser on cardiac surgery development in Indonesia; and a member of the Australia China Council.
In 2000, Dr Victor Chang was named Australian of the Century by the people of Australia.
He is remembered as a quiet, charming man – much loved by his patients and friends, his wife Ann, and his children Vanessa, Matthew and Marcus.
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