A Biography of Victor Chang’ by Sakshi Kaushik

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Early Life: He was born in Shanghai. He moved to Hong Kong in 1938 and stayed there until 1940. He lived in Rangoon, Burma for a year then moved to Chung K’ing, China the following year. In 1946, Chang immigrated to Sydney, in Australia. Parents: Aubrey Chang, his father and May Lee, his mother were brought up in Australia. Victor Chang lived with his aunt and uncle in Campsie after his mother died of breast cancer in 1951. This is when he decided to become a doctor.

Education: Chang attended a local primary school in Campsie; even though he was a brilliant student, he was a loner. He was enrolled in Christian Brothers, a Catholic school in Lewisham from where he passed his Leaving Certificate albeit getting low marks in English. Victor Chang attended Sydney University from 1956. Marriage: He was married to Ann Simmons (an English lady) in the year 1968 and they had three children. Death: Victor Chang was tragically murdered in 1991 by two Asian gangsters at the age of 55. This was a big loss to medicine.

Medicine: He completed his medical degree and was made a resident doctor at St. Vincent’s Hospital in the year 1963. Dr. Mark Shanahan and Dr. Harry Windsor were the two doctors who inspired Chang to become a heart surgeon. Dr. Windsor described Victor Chang as hard working and tenacious. Chang also studied under Yorke-Mason in the United Kingdom. Victor was determined to be the best ever heart surgeon. After marriage in England, Victor Chang left to work in America in 1970. He worked in the world-famous Mayo Clinic.

After a year in the Mayo Clinic, the surgeon returned to Sydney. Dr. Christian Barnard was the first person to succeed in a heart transplant (this was in 1967). Inspired by this Dr. Chang performed many heart transplants in Sydney and other parts of the world. It became almost a routine to him. By now, Chang was respected as a highly experienced surgeon. He was always very positive and confident and one of his famous sayings was, “How could anything go wrong? I’m doing the operation, aren’t I? ” Victor Chang set up many successful clinics in South-East Asia.

Achievements: Fiona Coote, a fourteen-year-old girl, was given new life through heart transplant. This encouraged many others to donate their organs in the event of their death. Dr. Chang was named Australian of the year in 1985 for his contribution in the field of heart transplants. He was always trying to improve the existing techniques to make the risky operations much safer. He was designing an artificial heart as there were never enough donors to help the sick when needed. He was on the verge of completing the design of the artificial heart when he was shot dead.

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