Chang, Victor P

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BSc (Med) 1961 MB BS 1963 MD honoris causa 1988 (UNSW) FRACS FACS

Victor Chang was responsible for the establishment of Australia's National Heart Transplant Program at St Vincent's Hosptital, Sydney in 1984 and was its head surgeon.[1] Victor (Yam Him) was born in Shanghai of Australian-born Chinese parents. He came to Australia in 1953 to complete his secondary schooling at Christian Brothers College, Lewisham. He undertook a Bachelor of Medical Science, followed by a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Sydney and then worked for two years as an intern and a registrar of cardiothoracic surgery at St Vincent's Hospital.

He received further training at the Brompton Hospital for Chest Diseases in London and became the Chief Resident at the Mayo Clinic in the USA. During this time, he was awarded Fellowships to the Royal College of Surgeons, the Australasian College of Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons.

Victor then returned to St Vincent's Hospital in 1972 to join their cardiothoracic team, which already included Dr Harry Windsor and Dr Mark Shanahan. In 1980, when heart transplants became more feasible due to the development of an anti-rejection drug, Victor made the initial submission to the government for a cardiac transplant program at St Vincent's Hospital and personally lobbied the government and businessmen for the funds to help finance the National Heart Transplant Program which commenced in 1983. He was responsible for the establishment of the National Heart Transplant Program at St Vincent's Hospital in 1984.

On 24 February 1984,Victor led a team of 40 to perform the first transplant under the program at St Vincent's Hospital. At the time of his tragic death, the team had performed 266 heart transplants, 22 heart-lung transplants and six single lung transplants. With a 92 per cent patient survival rate one year after surgery and an 85 per cent survival rate five years after surgery, Victor's team had become one of the most successful in the world. During the 1980s, he travelled and lectured extensively in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. He was the founder and President of the Australasian-China Medical Education and Scientific Research Foundation which began sponsoring South-East Asian doctors, nurses and students to work in Australia, enabling them to return to improve the quality of patient care in their own countries. Victor also initiated the sponsorship of many teams from St Vincent's to China, Singapore and Indonesia where they shared their medical, surgical, nursing, hospital administrative and audiovisual skills and knowledge. He was honorary Professor of Surgery to the Chinese Academy of Medical Science in Beijing, honorary Professor of Surgery to Shanghai Medical School and official Adviser on cardiac surgery development in Indonesia. In 1982, he was appointed as a Council member of the Australia China Council.

Victor was an original thinker and saw the need for research and development of various cardiothoracic devices. In his last project, he designed an artificial heart valve, coined the St Vincent's Heart Valve, which is produced overseas and is used to treat hundreds of patients in South East Asia.

In 1986 Victor Chang was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia by the Governor-General.

He died tragically in Sydney on 4 July 1991.

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Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Chang, Victor P. Faculty of Medicine Online Museum and Archive, University of Sydney.

An alternate version appears in: Mellor, L. 150 Years, 150 Firsts: The People of the Faculty of Medicine (2006) Sydney, Sydney University Press.