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Victor Chang

Doctor Victor Peter Chang AC (Chang Yam Him 張任謙; pinyin: Zhāng Rènqiān; 21 November, 1936–4 July, 1991) was a Chinese-Australian heart surgeon, and one of the pioneers of modern heart transplantation. Born in Shanghai to Australian-born Chinese parents, he spent his childhood in Hong Kong, before coming to Australia in 1953 and completing his secondary schooling at Christian Brothers' High School, Lewisham. He studied medicine at the University of Sydney, graduating with a Bachelor of Medical Science with first class honours in 1960, and a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 1962, then worked for two years as an intern at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney before leaving for further training in England. Chang apparently chose to study medicine because of his mother's death from breast cancer when he was 12 years old.

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After becoming a fellow of both the Royal College of Surgeons and American College of Surgeons, he returned to St. Vincent's Hospital, Sydney in 1972 to join the cardiothoracic team there, which already included top surgeons Dr. Harry Windsor (who had performed Australia's first heart transplant in 1968) and Dr. Mark Shanahan. The advent of anti-rejection drugs in 1980 made heart transplants more feasible, and Chang lobbied politicians and businessmen to raise funds to establish a heart transplant program at St. Vincent's. The first transplant under the program was performed on the 14-year old Fiona Coote on 24 February, 1984.

Between 1984 and 1990 Dr. Chang's unit performed over 197 heart transplants and 14 heart-lung transplants. The unit had a high rate of success with 90% of those receiving transplants from the unit surviving beyond the first year. In 1986, Victor Chang was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia for his highly commendable deeds.

Concerned about a shortage of organ donors, he arranged financing and assembled a team of scientists and engineers from around the world to develop an artificial heart. That team, working in Singapore, Guangzhou and Sydney, also developed mechanical and tissue heart valves called the St. Vincent's Heart Valves, which were widely implanted throughout Asia. Dr. Chang and his team also made significant progress on the design of an artificial heart. Tragically, his research projects ended with his untimely death.

Chang was murdered on 4 July, 1991, following an extortion attempt on his family. He was shot twice in the head with a .32 calibre pistol in Mosman after a heated argument with his attackers on his way to work. After a 10 day investigation, 15 police raids, and the questioning of over 30 people, Chiew Seng Liew was charged with the murder, and Jimmy Tan was charged as an accessory.

On 15 February, 1994 the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, a body intended to focus on research into "the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart muscle diseases," was launched by Prime Minister Paul Keating, funded by the Federal Government, as well as public donations (including $3 million from the late Kerry Packer). Professor Robert M. Graham was named as the Executive Director of the Institute following an international search.

In 2001, ten years after his death, Chang's daughter Vanessa published the biography Victor Chang: A tribute to my father, with all proceeds from the sale of the book going to The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.

Today the new science labs at Christian Brothers' High School, Lewisham are named in memory of Dr Victor Leo Chang. The naming of the building upholds the gift and greatness of his work so that it can be honoured and be an inspiration to the students and staff that use the labs to learn and teach.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Victor_Chang". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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