On 21 November 1936, Victor Chang was born in Shanghai, China, an Australian doctor appreciated and remembered for his innovations in the field of cardiac surgery and for his activity in the sector. On the occasion of the 87th anniversary of his birth, Chang is celebrated with a doodle, the animation that occasionally replaces the Google logo on the search engine’s home page.
Chang was the son of Chinese-British parents born in Australia. He initially grew up in Hong Kong but went to study in Sydney as a child with his sister. He began to become interested in medicine in 1948, when his mother died of breast cancer: she was 33 and he was 12. In 1962 Chang graduated in medicine and surgery from the University of Sydney, where he returned to work as a heart surgeon in 1972 after some experiences in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Returning to Sydney, Chang helped establish the nation’s leading heart and lung transplant center at St. Vincent’s Hospital. One of his most significant contributions was the development of a heart valve that was much cheaper than previous models, which made heart transplants more accessible globally. At the same time, Chang helped spread his methods, with the aim of giving more attention to patients who needed transplants and promoting the advancement of medicine.
In 1984, 14-year-old Fiona Coote operated, the youngest Australian patient to undergo a successful heart transplant. In 1986 Coote required a second transplant, and to this day she is the longest-living Australian to have had a heart transplant. Also in 1984, Chang founded the Victor Chang Foundation, which still awards scholarships to aspiring surgeons from South East Asian countries who want to train in cardiac surgery and heart transplants at St. Vincent Hospital. He died on July 4, 1991, murdered during an extortion attempt by two young men in Sydney.
In 1986 Chang received the title Companion of the Order of Australia, the country’s highest award, for his “service to medical science and international relations between Australia and China”. In 1994, a research institute was founded in his name dedicated to the diagnosis, study and prevention of cardiovascular diseases. In 1999 he was chosen as “Australian of the Century” at the People’s Choice Awards, the event where the country’s most prominent people and popular pop culture products were honored.
– Read also: The first complete eyeball transplant was performed